OK. I’m quasi-retired. But at 63 I’m still working enough for a nonprofit in DC — and I have no intention of moving to the sidelines anytime soon. Multiply me by several million my age or older, and it’s not hard to figure out at least one reason why younger workers — many these days with college degrees — can’t get into the game of finding a job that pays a decent salary and offers some career opportunity.
The problem is that our economy is not generating enough good new jobs. And in the midst of today’s jobless economic recovery, that ain’t going to change anytime soon, if ever. Sigh.
I opined about this problem previously, “College Grads: A Diploma But No Job?” And I mentioned that when I left Kent State in 2008 to begin my quasi-retirement, one of the first reports I saw coming out of DC about jobs stated that as a nation we would face a tremendous job shortage by 2010: too few qualified new workers and Baby Boomers racing out of the offices and factories en masse.
Ah, sorry policy wonks. The Great Bush Recession and the collapse of the housing and stock markets pretty much took care of the job shortage view of the world and economy. Wonder if that kind of fuzzy thinking Inside the Beltway explains why we are in this mess — and why we can’t seem to get out of it? Oops. I digress.
And the fact is older workers — like me — are hugging the job tree. Here’s from USA Today, “American workforce growing grayer“:
The number of people 55 and older holding jobs is on track to hit a record 28 million in 2010 while young people increasingly are squeezed out of the labor market, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
The portion of people ages 16-24 in the labor market is at the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948, falling from 66% in 2000 to 55% this year. There are 17 million in that age group who are employed, the fewest since 1971 when the population was much smaller.
By contrast, people in their 50s, 60s or 70s are staying employed longer than at any time on record. For example, 55% of people ages 60 to 64 were in the labor market during the first 11 months of 2010, up from 47% for the same period in 2000.
“What’s striking about this recession is that people 62 and older — those eligible for Social Security — are increasing their participation in the labor force,” says Richard Johnson, an economist at the Income and Benefits Policy Center of the non-partisan Urban Institute. All groups younger than 55 have declining shares of the population in the labor force.
It’s all about jobs, folks.