Geezers to the Rescue?

Sep 3, 2019 | Business & Economy, Business-Friendly Environment, Economy, Talent

Finding workers is a big, big challenge for many employers, as you probably already know. It’s a regular point of conversation with our members.

In light of that, an interesting story in the July 1 edition of the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. In a story titled “Gray Wave of Workers Gives Slow-Growing World a Boost,” reporter Sarah Chaney reports on the trend in countries with advanced economies of a growing labor participation rate by older workers.

Chaney wrote that “Labor-force participation—the share of people working or looking for work—for people aged 55 to 64 started climbing throughout advanced economies around the turn of the century, reversing decades of decline.”

For instance, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the labor participation rate for workers aged 55 – 64 in the U.S. was 54.2% in 1984 and had climbed to 65.8% last year.

That trend continues with those 65 and older with 11.1% in the labor force in 1984 compared to 19.6% in 2018.

According to Chaney, “Labor-force participation among older workers began a descent around the 1970s largely due to policies that encouraged early retirement, such as a lower retirement age and generous unemployment benefits.”

She notes the reversal of that trend is due to several contributing factors including: changes in government policies to discourage early retirement, rising life expectancy, and inadequate retirement assets caused by financial setbacks.

The trend underscores the need for companies to be intentional about policies and practices to accommodate older workers. It also provides an opportunity for more orderly transition of knowledge.

This topic and others will be discussed at the Talent Summit the morning of October 4. I encourage you to put a hold on your calendar.

As a reminder, also check out