Tidal Wave of Retiring Boomers Will Sweep across Suburbs

By Davis, Jon | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 29, 2004 | Go to article overview

Tidal Wave of Retiring Boomers Will Sweep across Suburbs


Davis, Jon, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jon Davis Daily Herald Staff Writer

The younger baby boomers and Gen-X'ers working out of Pace's River Division garage in Elgin probably have less than three years left to learn tricks of the bus driving trade from 30-year veteran Gale Stevens.

"I'll tell you what it is: defensive driving," the 62-year-old Belvidere resident said. "You've almost got to know what that other driver is going to do."

And then there's the passengers and "how not to get them mad," she says.

After so many years driving for Pace and Elgin's former municipal bus service, Stevens can see the day ahead when she'll pack up all of that experience and knowledge and head off into retirement.

"I'm not eligible for retirement until I'm 65 and 10 months, so that's when I hope to go," she said. "What I dread is the fact that they might raise it before I get there."

Stevens is in the vanguard of a national trend resulting from the baby boomers' inexorable march toward retirement: Over the next decade or two, older employees will leave the work force in growing numbers.

A recent study by the Illinois Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Census Bureau suggests suburban transit agencies will be among industries hardest hit by the loss of retiring boomers and their knowledge and experience.

The trend will begin playing itself out in Illinois by 2008 with job openings due to retirements, said Mitch Daniels, an analyst with the state employment agency.

Through 2010, for example, Illinois will see about 128,000 annual full- and part-time job openings, about 80 percent the result of people retiring.

From 2010 through 2012, that number climbs to 148,000 annual job openings. Projections show the retirement wave tailing off by 2014 or 2016.

Nationally, the percentage of those working among men ages 55-64 is expected to grow to 69.4 percent by 2008 from 66 percent in 1995, and among women ages 55-64 to 57.7 percent in 2008 from 49.2 percent in 1995.

Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said the report's conclusions are the reason the commuter rail agency is training more younger engineers now. …

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