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We’re Not Stealing Your Stinkin’ Jobs After All

younsters vs oldiesSo once again, conventional wisdom bites the dust. Word on the street (Wall Street, Main Street, take your pick) was that baby boomers who wouldn’t retire were stealing jobs from younger workers. Just because our savings tanked and we’ve been supporting our parents AND offspring, that didn’t mean they couldn’t accuse us of being mean old job stealers. That’s what we all get for living longer.

Then along comes the Center for Retirement Research, which has been looking at 1977-2011 data from the Current Population Survey. The study looked specifically at the speculation that younger workers were facing a millennial glass ceiling because those darn boomers wouldn’t get out of the way.

Surprise, surprise. It turns out that boomers staying on the job actually helps younger workers get more jobs, and better paying jobs. The more older workers who remain on the job, the more they spend, especially on new products and services. Somebody is buying those telephones with the jumbo numbers on them! The phenomenon is comparable to the way in which immigrants in the workforce spur economic growth without displacing job opportunities for native-born workers.

This study doesn’t address the mentoring element in the young vs old facewhole equation, but it’s worth noting that other studies and anecdotal experiences demonstrate that boomers are helping millennials assume the reins by sharing their knowledge (or gray matter as I like to call it).

So it looks like boomers are a boon to millennials, not a bust. Not only are we generating new employment opportunities for them, we’re also willingly transferring our skills and knowledge so that they will most likely leapfrog over us in the organizational hierarchy. And what do we want in return? Nothing. Well, nothing but allowing us to stay on the job a little longer – long enough to try to boost our savings for retirement. And even that is a plus for millennials. The more boomers can save now, the less millennials will have to subsidize us out of their pockets.

You don’t want your parents hanging around highway exit ramps with signs that say “Will work for food. Millennials took my job away.” Of course not. So cut us a break and let us die on the job or at a desk, because that still looks like the upside from here.

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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