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The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb

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The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb

How Companies Can Avoid the Fallout from the Coming Skills Shortage


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Who needs a gold watch? Retirement is not what it used to be: Find out how the graying of America affects the future of work.

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The graying of America is a not a new topic, but it is getting increasing attention now that the first baby boomers have filed for Medicare and are eligible for Social Security. Their sheer number – 76 million – dictate that, as in so many other spheres, they will make an impact, for better or worse, on work and retirement. Many boomers likely will want to remain in the workforce, either to earn money or to stay active, or both. While this will help ease the looming labor shortage, it also poses certain problems for companies that tend to see older workers as too expensive, too demanding or, simply, too old. Professors Donald L. Venneberg and Barbara Welss Eversole tackle this issue head on, but unfortunately their book reads too much like the academic research papers, statistics and surveys they often cite. While you might not expect a book about age demographics and workplace practices to be a page-turner, this research reveals an important story that will determine America’s future. getAbstract considers this significant reading for human resources professionals and innovative CEOs who want to bring seasoned, talented people back on board – and keep them working.


Living Longer and Getting Older

In much of the developed world, old people now outnumber young people. In the US, life expectancy for men and women is now 75 and 80 years, respectively. Estimates say that the population of Americans aged 65 and older will double by 2040, while the under-65 population will grow by only 10%.

By 2015, the number of employed Americans older than 55 is expected to grow to 20% of the total workforce, up from 11% in 2000. Baby boomers, the 76 million people born in the US between 1946 and 1964, are driving important changes in contemporary workforce demographics. The boomers’ eventual retirement will set off a projected worker shortage, especially in skilled and experienced individuals. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the civilian workforce’s growth rate will decline dramatically through 2025. According to one scenario, if all the boomers were to leave their jobs as they reached the normal retirement age of 65, the US would not be able to meet its labor needs for decades.

Corporate practices that limit the hiring and retention of older workers and tighter immigration policies contribute to this looming labor crunch. ...

About the Authors

Donald L. Venneberg is assistant professor of organizational performance at Colorado State University. Barbara Welss Eversole is assistant professor of human resources development at Indiana State University.

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