Job boom, but an economic bust

Mar 22, 2010

Baby boomers will need to play a critical role in filling a potentially significant labor shortage later this decade after the economy recovers from its downturn, according to new research by Northeastern University.

Barry Bluestone, dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and founding director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, says that within the next eight years there could be at least five million job vacancies in the United States — and not enough people to fill them.

Based on government projections of how much each worker will contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018, he says the labor shortage could cost the economy $3 trillion over the five-year period from 2018 to 2022.

Bluestone makes his case in a report, “After the Recovery: Help Needed — The Coming Labor Shortage and How People in Encore Careers Can Help Solve It,” which is being released today by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures. The latter organization is a think tank focused on the role of baby boomers as a vital workforce that can advance social change.

“If the baby boom generation retires from the labor force at the same rate and age as current , the baby bust generation that follows will likely be too small to fill many of the projected ,” Bluestone states in his report.

To avoid future labor shortages, Bluestone asserts that engaging workers over 55 in encore careers will be imperative. Bluestone points to a 2008 MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Encore Career Survey that found most people expect to work longer than previous generations, but that half of those aged 44 to 70 want encore careers that combine personal meaning, continued income and social impact.

“Not only will there be jobs for these experienced workers to fill,” Bluestone writes, “but the nation will absolutely need older workers to step up and take them.”

Bluestone’s paper was coauthored by Mark Melnik, the deputy director for research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). It is based on population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau and employment forecasts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Labor Market Assessment Tool developed by Northeastern’s Dukakis Center and the BRA.

MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures released Bluestone’s findings along with three others papers from independent experts, who also agree will play significant roles in the future labor market and in meeting social needs.

Explore further: Collective bargaining subsidizes low-wage work in some states

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How Temporary Help Agencies Impact the Labor Market

Aug 29, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Temporary help agencies place nearly 3 million Americans in jobs each day -- but the temp industry's very success may embolden some managers to view all workers as impermanent, jobs scholar Vicki Smith argues ...

Home health shortages seen for boomers

Sep 27, 2006

The in-home caregiver shortage in the United States is expected to worsen and cities aren't ready for aging baby boomers' health needs, two reports show.

Older workers spend less on necessities and health care

Oct 21, 2009

More older Americans are choosing to continue to work or are returning to the labor force. The number of workers age 65 and older is predicted to increase by more than 80 percent by 2016. In an ongoing study, ...

Recommended for you

Study identifies upside to financial innovations

Aug 27, 2014

Financial innovations can make or break an economy. While the negative impact of financial innovation has been extensively covered, a new study of financial innovations before and during the last financial crisis indicates ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010

I don't think they included how many jobs that will be lost too. We'll probably end up with 30hr weeks in order to employ the people who need a job.