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2010-05-10 06:14:07
Baby Boomers Retiring May Create Worker Shortage

retirementAs we experience the millions of people all across the US struggling to find work, as unbelievable as it may seem, there could be more jobs than workers to fill them and according to an new report published Monday by the MetLife Foundation and san Francisco-based Civic Ventures, a think tank focusing on baby boomers, work and social purpose, the report reveals that a worker shortage could develop within 10-years with the baby boomers reaching traditional retirement age.

According to the report, “When the nation comes out of the current jobs recessions,” which is estimated it may take two to three years, “we will begin to see spot shortages in labor markets. If the economy continues to improve, the spot shortages will become more general, and we will experience the shortages our research projects.”

One might wonder how the report’s authors arrived at this conclusion. However according the government’s analysis, it is expected that 14.6 of new nonfarm payroll jobs will be created between 2008-2018. This figure will hit 15.3 million new jobs including self-employed workers, and family members working in family businesses and workers in farming.

Then if your follow the government’s projected population growth and current labor force participation rates – assuming no major changes in immigration – there will be about 9.1 million additional workers over the same time period. Allowing adding to the picture multiple job holders, the total number of jobs expected to be filled is 9.6 million.

Subtracting the numbers of filled jobs from the expected numbers of new jobs, the results range 5 to 5.7 million vacant jobs. However the labor force predicts that baby boomers will not retire at as high a rate as earlier cohorts of older workers – so it is believed that there would be 3.3 to 4 million vacant jobs, according to the report.

The targeted fields that are believed to feel the shortages are HEALTH, according the reports co-author Barry Bluestone, an economist and founding director of Northeastern University Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

“And if we get projected growth, there could be pretty broad shortages, and we need to find a way to fill those jobs,” he said.

According Bluestone, it is thought that older workers may be the answer since not only are people living longer, but they are much healthier, and most want to continue working, even if there is no financial reason.

As with any report put out for informational purposes, not everyone agrees to this projected shortage. One such skeptic is Harry Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and the Urban Institute. He believes that the combination of new technology and globalization could constrain job growth.

“I’m willing to acknowledge that you can have shortages for short periods of time. At the occupational level, there are some areas, especially health care, where demand is outstripping supply of workers, but an economy-wide shortage of workers?  I don’t think so,” Holzer said.

“Labor markets adjust – if more workers are needed then wages will increase,” Holzer said.  He also believes that part of the adjustment will require workers retiring later, and that such a trend has already started, in part because of better health and more workers in white-collar jobs.  This is mainly attributed to insufficient retirement savings and losses in stock and housing markets. “All those factors would lead people to delay retirement,” Holzer said.

Here is a list of job categories that the Government projects will see the largest employment growth between 2008-2018:

—Registered nurses will add 582,000 jobs;
—Home health aides will add 461,000;
—Customer services representatives will add 400,000;
—Food preparation and serving workers (including fast food) will add 394,000;
—Personal and home care aides will add 376,000;
—Retail salespeople will gain 375,000;
—Office clerks, general will gain 359,000;
—Accountants and auditors will gain 279,000;
—Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants will gain 276,000;
—Postsecondary teachers will gain 257,000.

In this report, Social Sector jobs, which includes those industries covering health care and social assistance, educational services, nonprofit community and religions organizations, the performing arts, museums, libraries and government, is where the MetLife/Civic Ventures report specifically picks out the 6.9 million new jobs in the ‘Social sector,” which represents 47 percent of the total projected nonfarm payroll employment growth, according to the report.

Bluestone suggested that older workers may be particularly well suited to many of these jobs. “One thing that’s true is that many of these jobs do not require enormous physical effort,” Bluestone said. “Many of the jobs in the social sector are ones that require less physical exertion, but require people with common sense and experience.”

Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center of American Progress states that younger workers will need open spots too. “We probably need to do more to make sure folks can retire so that we can increase the availability of jobs for younger workers,” Boushey said. “There is a crisis for young people who are graduating and not getting their foot in the door.

Report highlights taken from MarketWatch.com Inc. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services and rismedia.com.
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