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ICRA Labelled


Web Site Story
Pick of the Week! 3/16/98



A Shift will Happen in the Future

By: James O. Armstrong



    No, it hasn't happened yet. But, the process has begun and it will continue as more and more employers of every possible description in America come to understand about the current and coming labor shortage in the United States.

    Here are the current facts. There is already a nationwide shortage of nurses, teachers, truck drivers and warehouse workers, pharmacists, certain types of manufacturing employees and others. Plus, this analysis does not include the highly skilled worker shortage right now among technology companies in the US, which each year requires our country to admit thousands of foreign workers with temporary visas to help us get this job done in the United States. And, even after we've taken this step, Bill Gates, who is America's richest and perhaps the world's richest man, testified recently before our US Congress that the number of such highly skilled worker visas continues to be grossly inadequate to meet the current demand for such men and women.

    Will this situation change for our US economy in the future? Yes, it will, but not in the way you may expect, according to recent testimony from the current Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve before the US Senate Labor Relations Committee. He, too, predicted a labor shortage will continue and become such a significant factor that our current economic growth, which has average 3% per year for the past 10 years, will actually drop by one third to 2% per year beginning in five years because of our anticipated labor shortage.

    With 77 million to 78 million Baby Boomers in America, many of which will choose at least some type of retirement, the United States already knows that that there are significantly fewer Generation Xers to take their place in the workforce. In short, our nation cannot simply manufacture people.

    At the same time, Americans are living longer than ever before, thanks largely to the wonderful medical breakthroughs of recent years. In fact, one of four Americans can now expect to live until age 97 on an average. For its part, Social Security is already set to raise its previous retirement age for full benefits from age 65 until a graduated age 67, depending on someone's date of birth. Further, not all of our Baby Boomers or Active Seniors want to stop working entirely for a variety of different reasons, which range from needing the money to simply enjoying the work.

    Further, how often do we as individuals visit an Urgent Care facility near our homes on the weekend and wind up seeing a 72 year old semi-retired doctor (who used to be a surgeon in the area), who still likes to work with patients at least occasionally. We are also not surprised to see such men and women in a dentist's office, CPA firm, engineering company, financial planning office, stock brokerage or public relations firm either. In short, professionals are allowed to continue on the job on either a full-time or part-time basis in our society essentially as long as they desire to work and on schedules of their choosing. In addition, these older professionals are already helping now to bridge the labor shortage gap in their areas of expertise.

    So, what about the rest of us? Wouldn't it be a desirable outcome to have everyone else treated in the same way as these valuable professionals are now treated in our society? Of course, the answer to that question is an unqualified "Yes."

    What is one of the greatest fears for someone, who is a Baby Boomer or Active Senior today? When someone is not yet ready to stop working completely, it is that "no one will want to hire me because I am too old." I believe that this type of individual thinking will change in our society primarily due to economic necessity, as more and more companies affirm their commitment to add men and women over age 40 to their staff, on a full-time or part-time basis or as independent contractors.

    As Baby Boomers and Active Seniors, our generation also needs to check out the government, on every level from the federal to the state to the local and to the counties all across America. These important jobs will also see a massive turnover in the coming years, as a surge in retirements take place in the area of essential government services. An acquaintance of mine with an excellent education and a high IQ recently discovered a senior IT position in my home county of McHenry County, Illinois, which followed a 14 month, previously unsuccessful job search.

    Our country is right now in the beginning stages of responding to growing market pressures for available men and women to join their companies and other organizations. A noteworthy example of providing fringe benefits for part-time employment today emerges from Starbucks, which has received recognition for its forward thinking in this area. In addition, AARP several years ago established its annual awards program, which recognized top employers for its 50+ year old members. Prominent on this list are a whole group of outstanding hospitals in the US, two of which have a significant presence near my home in Northwest Illinois. Schneider National, North America's largest truckload carrier which is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has also discovered the value of older husband-wife teams adding supplemental drivers to their fleet.

    Will other companies and organizations make the same discoveries in the future. Simple supply and demand factors for available workers and managers will dictate the individual and collective answers to this question. Our federal and state governments may also step into this equation, perhaps even with tax incentives to companies to hire men and women above a certain age. Already, a growing number of states in the US have also passed exclusions on state income taxes for retired military staffers in a bid to capture this talented group of workers in their 40s and early 50s, who have been trained in a variety of ways at US taxpayer expense. Obviously, our retiring military men and women will need to know which states want them the most in the future, as they factor this additional input into the equation when they leave active military service.

    In conclusion, while it hard to say when this shift will happen, we do know that it will gradually take place as more and more companies and other organizations realize the full dimension of our coming labor shortage and exactly how it will affect them. This shift will also be a positive one for Baby Boomers and Active Seniors alike since it will create a greater demand for them and for the continued use of their skills.

    For this reason, http://www.NowWhatJobs.net was set up to better inform individuals and employers about the current and coming labor shortage facing America. In addition, as one of our staffers recently put it to me. "It would be great just to see them (i.e. companies and other organizations) be neutral" in the hiring of older workers. On this point, our team agrees wholeheartedly.


    James O. Armstrong, who is the president of NowWhatJobs.net Inc., also serves as the Editor of http://www.nowwhatjobs.net. In addition, he is the author of "Now What: Discovering Your New Life And Career After 50" and the president of James Armstrong & Associates, Inc., which is a media representation firm based in Suburban Chicago.

    From NowWhatJobs.net
    http://www.nowwhatjobs.net/opinions/opinion.php?opinionCatId=3&opinionId=4


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