Category Archives: older workers v. younger workers

Generation Wars II

Are seniors hurting younger workers by staying in the job market longer? Employment as a percentage of population is lower for the 16-54 age group than it is for the 55+ age group. David Frum speaks about both groups this week in The Daily Beast.
On Monday he wrote “Retirement was a Pre-Recession Luxury” in which he says:
“Jed Graham at Investors Business Daily makes a very important observation: even as overall labor force participation plunges, the employment rate for workers over age 55 has reached a 40-year high as baby boomers discover that they cannot afford to retire after all:
·         55+ – employment to population ratio barely dipped even in the depth of the recession
·         20 – 54 ratio remains 4% lower than before the recession started
·         65-69 and 70-74 employed shares up 1.1 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points respectively. (paraphrased)”
Then on Tuesday (today) David Frum writes about the 16-54 age group in his article “Today’s Scariest Job Chart”. Here is that “scariest job chart”.
He says:
“Last week’s job numbers did little to inspire confidence in the economy. Jed Graham of Investors Business Day has done some digging and has found another piece of bad news. It turns out that employment by all people aged 16-54 is at its lowest point since 1981.”
Mr. Graham says: “Much of the decline has little to do with the state of the job market and everything to do with demographics.”
Frum quotes “Harm Bandolz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit figures that fully half of the decline in the participation rate since the end of 2007 is due to the aging of the population and, thus, should have been anticipated.
The article also gives some other suggestions for the decline in employment to population percentages in the 16-54 age group which suggest that the safety net may be allowing some member of that group to stay out of the job market.
Although Frum and Graham, et al do not come right out and state it in plain terms it is clear that they blame longer life and thus longer job market participation by “boomers” for some of the difficulties other groups have finding jobs. Just the way they split their groups into the age groups that they did implies that these two groups are at odds with each other. Again – a combination of recession and aging pits the 16-54 age group and the 55+ age group against each other in the job market as well as in the arena of social security. Ouch! There you have it – Generation Wars II.