essays

They Really Like Us

work or retire signGrey matter or grey eminence, whatever you call it, boomers are still valued in the workplace (at least according to an AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll).

61% of the boomers surveyed said that their age was not an issue in the workplace. In fact, 25% thought it was an asset. Over half these boomers are working for bosses younger than themselves.

Age discrimination was a non-issue for 82 percent who said they never personally experienced it in the workplace. Twenty-four percent of unmarried women reported they had experienced it. Typically, the age discrimination that was cited was being passed over for a raise, promotion, or other career advancement.

For those 50 and over, there was a sense that younger co-workers were turning to them for advice and counsel and a third of those surveyed felt their employers were treating them with more respect.

But the respect does not make up for the insecurity they feel. One in four report that they can’t retire any time soon and the same percentage say they don’t have enough money saved for retirement. So it would appear that boomers are feeling the love but respect won’t pay the bills.

About two thirds of those surveyed say they will work at least part-time past their retirement age because they will need the money or to supplement what savings and social security will net them. Almost a third say they working womanwill work just to stay busy.

Much has been made of this trend for boomers to work longer, but it’s a trend that predates the big boom in retirees. Women in particular have been staying in the workforce longer and with fewer manufacturing jobs that required physical strength, many people are opting to work well past retirement. The increase in the Social Security retirement age and the desire to hang on to employer paid health care benefits are also big factors.

Inevitably, some will argue that boomers are being selfish (what? again?) by not stepping aside to make room for the next generation of managers. But the facts would seem to indicate that boomers are perfectly happy to work for managers younger than themselves and/or work reduced work week hours, so perhaps this issue will be easily diffused. We may soon see boomers standing on corners with signs that say “Will work for kids.”

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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