Myths of an Aging Workforce

The financial pressure to retire later is strong. The job market is woeful for younger workers. But that doesn't mean baby-boomers are hogging the jobs.

The list of ills still weighing down the U.S. economy is long. Employers haveretrenched since 2007, and the nation's unemployment rate is at 8.6%, 30 monthsafter the recession officially ended. Wage gains are paltry for anxiousworkplace survivors. Income inequality has widened dramatically in a nationwhere equality of opportunity ranks among the central tenets in history. Themood is fearful and the anger raw on talk radio, the Internet, and in thepolitical arena, from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street to Capitol Hill.

As if that weren't enough, it now appears that intergenerational conflict hasbeen added to the list of grievances. Aging baby-boomers are reluctant to quittheir jobs. They've gotten the message that the safest retirement plan is tokeep earning an income during the years when an earlier generation of workerssaid goodbye to their colleagues. The graying of the workforce limits thenumber of job slots available to young adults and also blocks the promotionpipeline.

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Chris Farrell
Contributing Columnist, Kiplinger.com