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Young People Want You to Retire

A new study finds younger workers are frustrated with Baby Boomers who are refusing to retire

Brian Young's picture
Jun 10, 2019

More workers are putting off retirement. With most people not having pensions or adequate retirement savings, baby boomers are refusing to retire. A new poll suggests that many young people are not happy about this trend.

The poll which was conducted by the AP found that workers under the age of 50 viewed America’s aging workforce as a negative development. Currently, 20% of the workforce is over the age of 65, up from 12% just two decades prior.

The aging workforce has led some to believe that seniors are holding back the country’s economic momentum. Not only are these older workers costing companies more, through higher wages and increased health care costs, but they are creating a log jam at the top. Without older workers retiring there is not a natural flow of workers moving up the corporate ladder. This especially true in smaller companies where young people may see their opportunity to move up as being blocked by an older worker.

While younger workers may be angry that baby boomers aren’t retiring, older workers are also facing the dangerous realities of retirement. Without defined benefit pensions, many have failed to save enough for retirement or had their savings largely evaporate during the Great Recession.  While the economy has picked up, many spent the last decade rebuilding their retirement savings instead of making more money.

For younger workers, boomers refusal to retire is just another roadblock in advancing their careers. While households lead by millennials averaged a record high median income, their purchasing power is still the same as it was 40 years ago. This means that young workers are struggling to cover necessities like rent, student loans, healthcare, and car payments. While older generations like to mock young people for killing chain stores and restaurants, the fact is many millennials are struggling financially and are fed up.

While data on the larger economy is not conclusive on the effect of workers continuing to work into their late 60’s and early 70’s, the perception for many young people is that they are a hindrance. Many offices work on a top-down structure, meaning that when an executive retires, someone younger replaces them and someone else gets promoted and so on down the line. The promotions ensure that every few years new blood is moved up and you are rewarded for sticking with a company. Everyone is happy because they are making more money and gaining more responsibility. This not only allows the company to grow and evolve, but it allows younger workers to progress in life. It gives them the ability to get married, buy a house, and start a family. However, without those jobs opening up, the entire line is being bottlenecked and young people are holding off on these important life decisions.

Is the lack of job progress scapegoating? Maybe, but the reality is that among workers under 50 there is a perception that they are being held back by older workers. While there might not be data to prove that older workers are less efficient at work, there sure is enough data to indicate that this feeling has led to millennials and Gen Zers putting off major life events and purchases due to their perceived instability in the workforce.

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