More seniors than teens in job force

The economic downturn has many older folks returning to work, while youngsters are simply giving up.

By Kim Peterson Jul 15, 2010 4:32PM
working in retirement © Andersen Ross/Getty ImagesOlder people are staying in the workforce longer, and that has helped bring about a new phenomenon: Now, for the first time on record, more seniors than teenagers are in the labor force.

More people over age 65 either have jobs or are looking than ever before, The New York Times reports. But the participation of teens in the job force is down, perhaps because in this economy, more young people are either unemployed or have given up searching for work.

The flip took place around the end of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other factors are also at work here. The Baby Boom generation is getting older, putting more people in the senior category, writes Catherine Rampell. So naturally, more of them will be in the job force.

Another factor is that pensions are changing, moving away from defined-benefit and toward defined-contribution. Companies have embraced this new system because it transfers some of the risk to employees.
Workers took more control over their own retirement funds, which isn't necessarily a good thing because they were often too reliant on high-risk, high-reward stocks instead of bonds and more conservative options, Rampell writes.

Combine that with the overall drop in the market and the disappearing dividend, and the trend for retirees is clear. They are being forced to work longer.

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