LEWIS DIUGUID: Golden years being spent at work

Guest Columnist

(TNS) The so-called golden years don’t look so shiny to a lot of older people who find that they have to continue to work after they reach retirement age and beyond.

It’s causing the labor force to be a lot grayer than in the past, and the fact that older people are continuing to work means that it’s more difficult for a lot of younger people to find jobs.

The April edition of the AARP Bulletin reports that the U.S. Labor Department is projecting that the share of workers ages 55 and older will increase from 21.7 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2024. The 1.8 percent annual growth rate is more than three times the rate of the overall labor force.

“In contrast, the share of the labor force for those ages 16 to 24 is projected to decline from 13.7 percent in 2014 to 11.3 percent in 2024,” the magazine notes.

The babies of baby boomers — or Generation X and millennials — are not having children at a rate that will put more young adults into the labor force by 2024. There are about 75 million baby boomers born from 1946 to 1964. Millennials, born between 1977 and 2000, total about 80 million in the United States.

The AARP Bulletin notes that women of the baby boom “lead the wave of aging workers.”

The magazine quotes a Wall Street Journal analysis, saying, “Since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, the share of older working women has grown while the percentage of every other category of U.S. worker — by gender and age — has declined or is flat.”

Part of the blame for boomers staying in the labor force may be because the Great Recession stripped older Americans of equity in their homes or they lost their homes altogether in foreclosures. Many lost retirement saving or got stripped of wealth in a divorce.

Many also lost jobs in the recession, and the work they were able to find afterward didn’t pay as much or may not have been full time. Some gave up looking for work and fell off unemployment rolls.

Millennials also are expected to follow baby boomers in staying in the labor force longer. The AARP Bulletin reports that a survey from Scottrade, a financial services company, found that 7 in 10 millennials expect to keep working during their retirement years to supplement their income.

“That’s far higher rate than the 56 percent of Gen Xers and 39 percent of boomers who intend to keep working into retirement,” the magazine says.

GenXers were born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. Their numbers are close to boomers’.

But by the time they get to be older workers, they will find that to just hold on to their standard of living — and who says anything about the middle class or the American dream? — they will have to work longer.

Lewis Diuguid is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Readers may email him at ldiuguid@kcstar.com


Posted by Tribune News Services

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