Early in 2017, the New York Times reported that the workforce is growing slowly as more baby boomers retire. Recently, economist Janet Yellen, otherwise known as the Federal Reserve System’s Chair, stated that another economic crisis is unlikely “in our lifetime.” Still, reports show that now more than ever, Americans of retiring age are choosing to forego retirement altogether. As these older Americans notice that Social Security and the meager savings they have accumulated over the years won’t be enough, they continue working.
But as young Americans leave college and find themselves stuck in part-time jobs that don’t even cover their student loans, baby boomers remain active. So, as a matter of fact, labor force participation hasn’t been falling thanks to older Americans finally retiring. Instead, young, fully capable and educated men and women are the ones who aren’t being able to find suitable work.
Don’t trust me? Look at the numbers.
Last quarter, Bloomberg reports, 19 percent of 70- to 74-year-olds were still working. In the same period in 1994, only 11 percent of people in that age group were still in the labor force.
Also, this past quarter, 32 percent of Americans between the age of 65 and 69 were employed. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36 percent of people in this age group will be working by 2024. A huge increase from 22 percent of Americans aged 65 to 69 who were active in the labor force in 1994.
If these numbers aren’t enough, consider that in a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 79 percent of respondents said they expected to go into retirement while continuing to work. Workers aren’t even relying on retirement anymore as they struggle to save throughout life due to the high cost of living, high debt, and knowledge that Social Security alone just won’t do.
As you’ve read previously here at The Advocates, many young, educated Americans have already chosen to completely ignore their diplomas, going for occupations that are often available only to the low-skilled and poorly educated. As older Americans find it increasingly hard to leave the labor force altogether, expect an even greater number of young Americans failing to find gainful employment, especially in their areas. But instead of blaming baby boomers alone, remember what policies have paved the way for these discrepancies and who champions them.
More government-backed student loans and easier access to loans and grants, ensuring everyone has a higher education, has always been a staple of the progressive agenda. One that has been thoroughly supported by… yes, Millennials.
As a result of the implementation of this kind of policy, the government created an inflated, artificial demand for a college education that would not be the norm if the state hadn’t decided that college is for everyone. Students, who are often just influenced by peer pressure, were led to believe that any degree was enough, and that they shouldn’t be taking a good look at the labor market before making a decision. The result? Too many Americans with useless degrees who will eventually settle for occupations that have nothing to do with their “calling.”
Unless government is removed entirely from the picture, this trend will only worsen.