Saturday, May 15, 2010

Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?

A recent study noted that during this decade, in the United States, the 65-74 age group will grow by 44% and the 55-64 age group by 40%. The pool of people 45-54 will drop by 8% and the 35-44 group by 4%. Those of us who are in (or will soon be in) the older groups expect to work longer. We have for some time. Either we cannot afford to retire or we do not want to retire. Whatever the case, the reality is that our economy cannot afford for us to retire. This is not just an issue of Social Security and Medicare running out of money. It's an issue of who's going to do the work? And can the older folks do the work that needs to be done? As a work force, what skills are needed and who has those skills? We can talk about older folks working longer, but if they do not have the requisite skills, it's a moot point.
And while at a macro level younger people may understand that our economy needs these older workers, at the personal level a younger worker would just as soon see the old folks step aside. Especially if the old folks are ahead of them. My sense is that many older workers will stay in the workforce, but will be forced into low pay, low skill jobs. If you are, or are soon to be, an older worker, my advice is to figure out what you want to do and prepare to do it. If that means going back to school or learning new skills, start now. We can't all be Wal-Mart greeters.

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