With the turning of the calendar from 2010 to 2011, two key significant things happened that affect boomers: 1) the oldest boomers turned 65 and became eligible for full Social Security benefits; and 2) boomers now represent one of every five workers in the U.S.Thirty years ago, people 55+ held one of every seven jobs.
A study by the U.S. Department of Labor in December revealed that 28.2 million people 55 and over hold jobs today. That's a 7.6 percent increase over just three years ago when the recession began. Does that mean boomers are getting more jobs? Not necessarily. Some of the stats can be attributed to the fact that as boomers age, more of this huge population (78 million) now fall into the 55+ category. Another reason is that boomers are working longer. In fact, a recent study by the Center for Work-Life Policy revealed that 62 percent of boomers plan to work at least another nine years.
And consider this: in just 10 years, in 2020, 80 percent of all U.S. workers will be 50 or older. Of course, some of that growth in older worker employment will be the direct result of entrepreneurism, especially as boomers look to find a way to finance their health care. That means boomers will also create a lot of the jobs that will be available over the next decade or so.
In short, boomers will continue to be a powerful lot. They're making money, spending money and creating money for others. Shouldn't we all be encouraging that?
That's one reason it irks me to hear people suggest there should be a mandatory retirement age. The only reason 65 is the "official" retirement age now is because it was an arbitrary number chosen when Social Security was created during the Roosevelt administration.
For boomers to continue working voluntarily is nothing but a good thing. They will help contribute to the solvency of Social Security, help reduce the national deficit and (especially as business owners) generate economic growth, all good things. Oh... and that's not to mention all we contribute by mentoring younger employees, one of the things I enjoy most about my job.
I am one of those people who expects to work past age 65 simply because I want to. I've done a good job of financial planning for retirement, but the fact is I just love to work. I - and many of my boomer colleagues - are more creative today than we were a decade ago. (My friend, Leslie Charles, says when she went through menopause, all her fertility moved to her head!) We still have the energy, curiosity and mental faculties to contribute more than at any time in our careers.
So I'm delighted to see that the 55+ group is playing such an important role in American business today. How about you? What has been your experience in working with boomers? In finding a job as a boomer?