I was reminded of something that has sort of been floating around in the atmosphere these past few years while I was reading a couple of opinion pieces in the NYT Sunday Review: the problem young people are having finding jobs and the number of older people who are staying longer in the workforce. The Great Recession forced many people who were preparing to retire to keep working because their retirement portfolios were so adversely affected by the downturn. Many Retirees had to return to the workforce because they were no longer able to live on their pre-retirement investments/pensions. Now comes the next generation of workers, better educated and more technologically savvy, who are unable to find jobs because there are no openings. People are no longer retiring.
A similar thing happened in the late 1970’s and early 80’s when I was entering the workforce following college. the Women’s Movement was in full swing but the opportunities for many of us were still not available because of the economic downturn. Like the youth of today, many of us returned to college to get more education and more skills. Eventually our perseverance paid off and most of us moved into better paying jobs. I don’t remember, however, a large number of people staying in the workforce for a longer period of time. Probably because back then most people were covered by very good retirement packages that weren’t so dependent on the fluctuations of the Stock Market.
Another advantage for young people, both then and now, is that younger people are more versed in the latest new thing, in this case technology. It may be that, just like in the last part of the 20th Century, a new workplace will replace the old one and Millennials will find work in this new workplace that their elders don’t have the skills or knowledge to enter. The advance of technology is in their favor.