27 August 2008

Will Baby Boomers Wreck American Society?

Really wreck society or just Social Security? Forecasting appears dire. If boomers insist on retiring early (or even on time), they will create a shortage of funds for Social Security benefits. Presumably, a nation can fund anything it chooses to, so the U.S. may continue to support retirees even if one fund runs short.

But there's another wreck coming. But it's not just the funding for retirement benefits that boomers will influence. The retirement years of note (2008 and 2011 being most discussed now but there will be more dire years ahead) are those that will deplete specific work forces. On campuses, that's called the graying professoriate. Look around a faculty meeting and count the gray hairs. A new dean may see opportunity to grow a new college; a more experienced dean may dread the upcoming upheaval.

A national treasure: I'm not one to call any generation a national treasure, but the Treasury Department has identified the baby boom generation as crucial to their work force. They hope that as current employees exit (with their federal retirement benefits), other retirees or near-retirees will enter. Through the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, the Treasury Department hopes to recruit retiring IBM workers for encore careers with the government.

Other graying areas: It's not only Treasury that faces a gap in their work force. (Treasury is just one of the smarter entities to develop a strategy to meet their need.) Across all levels of government, we now hear predictions that the most experienced workers will soon be leaving. What will happen then? I can imagine longer lines in government offices, delays in permits and applications for everything, and a general decline in services. Think DMV on its busiest day—every day.

Will government offices make good encore careers? Would you sign on? I can think of some inducements that would lure me for an extra 5 or 10 years of employment: health benefits, flex schedule, option to telecommute half the time, and a cap on total hours of, what, 20 or 25 a week? We'll see what develops.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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