Fewer Young People, More Geezers Working These Days

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The percentage of young people (ages 16 to 25) participating in Virginia’s workforce has been sliding over the past 15 years, while the percentage of old-timers (65 years or older) in the workforce has been increasing.

The percentage change of geezers in the workforce increased 59% between 2001 and 2016, according to data published by the Demographics Research Group of the University of Virginia on the StatChat blog. By contrast, the percentage of the working 20- to 24-year-olds slid 11%, while the percentage of teenagers (ages 16 to 19) tumbled 24%.

The percentage of young people (ages 16 to 24) enrolled in school has been rising steadily since 1960. The big change in Virginia has been a marked decline in the percentage of students who are working while in school, as seen in the graph below. StatChat sees this as a good thing:

A greater proportion of teens are now choosing not to work in order to dedicate more of their time to school studies and to non-work-related extracurricular activities, perhaps to gain a competitive advantage in admission to postsecondary educational programs.

That’s one explanation. Another is that young people today don’t have the same work ethic as their elders. Members of the most affluent generation in American history would prefer to spend more time finding themselves, “giving back,” or following their bliss than submitting to the grind of a regular job. That’s not true of all young people, some of whom work very hard, but I have a hunch that it’s fair as a generalization.

The Demographics group did not proffer an explanation of why more seniors are working, but I’ve got a hunch. Baby Boomers may have been a hard-working generation, but they weren’t very frugal. The cohort now reaching retirement age did not do a very good job of saving for retirement. Now Boomers are finding they have to work longer to make ends meet. Just a hunch.

(This article first ran in Bacon’s Rebellion on December 21, 2017)
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About Jim Bacon

James A. Bacon is the author of “Boomergeddon” and publishes the Bacon’s Rebellion blog at www. Baconsrebellion.com.
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One Response to Fewer Young People, More Geezers Working These Days

  1. Bernie Hill says:

    I would like to disabuse you of the idea that people should retire at some preordained time in their life. I shun conventional wisdom about retirement age and consequently I will decide when it time for me to retire. My decision will not be influenced by your disparaging remarks that characterize me as a geezer.

    God has blessed me with good physical and mental health. I feel that I have an obligation to use my knowledge and experience to the best of my abilities – instead of watching TV, or playing golf, or fishing, or whatever else you think old geezers should be doing. I’m proud to say that I’m nearing 71 and still working – primarily to save for my 3 grandsons’ college education.

    I could live comfortably on just my retirement income. My decision to continue working has nothing to do with how I used the money that I earned earlier in my life. Your over-generalization about Boomers not being frugal is mere opinion based on insufficient or false premises. Your conclusions are based on faulty logic because you have not considered other factors that may contribute to a person’s decision to continue working. For example, it has been noted that rising levels of educational attainment are fueling the trend to continue working beyond the conventional retirement age – see: https://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-2015/work-over-retirement-happiness.html

    Age is not the primary criterion for retirement. As you are aware, the U.S. president is 71. But, did you also know that more than half of the Senators up for reelection in 2018 will be over the age of 65?

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