U.S. Work Force to Get Grayer, Think Tank Predicts

By Frank Swoboda 1997, The Washington Post | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 2, 1997 | Go to article overview

U.S. Work Force to Get Grayer, Think Tank Predicts


Frank Swoboda 1997, The Washington Post, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The nation is heading into the next century with an aging work force heavy with workers staying on simply because they cannot afford to retire.

That outlook emerged last week when the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank issued its Workforce 2020 report.

The report also raises the specter of a work force increasingly divided by education and skills into the "haves" and "have nots," with little hope for the low-skilled - unless major changes are made in education and employment policies. The work force is expected to remain dominated by white non-Hispanics. But Hispanics, a population grouping that includes whites and blacks, gradually will displace African-Americans as the largest minority ethnic group in the work force, the report said, drawing on U.S. Census projections. The biggest single workplace change taking place over the next generation will be the aging of the work force, according to the authors. "The American labor force will become somewhat more brown and black in the next 20 years, but its most pervasive new tint will be gray," the report said. The authors warned that "U.S. public policy as well as many employers have yet to come to grips with the full implications of America's aging." The report highlights the retirement dilemma to be faced by many in the "baby boom" generation, who will begin to reach age 65 in 2010. "By the year 2020, almost 20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older." the report said. "There will be as many Americans of `retirement age' as there are 20- to 35-year-olds. America's aging baby boomers will decisively affect the U.S. work force, through their departure from and continued presence in it." The Boredom Factor Many workers in the baby boom generation will not be able to afford to retire when they reach age 65, according to the report. "Some who reach age 65 will continue to require outside income. . . . Many others will not want to retire and will seek flexible work options. …

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