Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't Trust Anyone Who Thinks Retirement Will Create Job Openings

I was privy to a local official's comment to a group of young people recently that, if everyone who is expected to retire does retire, then half the relevant workforce would be retiring in the next two years.



Look, anyone who's telling you that there are going to be a lot of jobs because there are a lot of old people trying to retire is selling you something. Don't buy it:
  • I think there's plenty of evidence to suggest that baby boomers are stalling retirement because:
    • Their pension/Social Security just isn't enough
    • They don't have enough saved up to retire (or their retirement portfolio took a hit in the crash/they were diversified incorrectly/they thought they were the next Warren Buffet.)
    • They like their jobs a lot, and don't see any reason why they should stop working
    • They have kids in college to support or a mortgage to pay or a beachhouse in Florida to buy or, or, or... 
  • There is not a ton of evidence to support the assertion that because people are retiring, they're going to turn around and hire a lot of young/new people
    • They could close the jobs altogether (um, chemical R&D)
    • They could outsource the position to somewhere else (um, chemical R&D)
I've just made a bunch of unsupported assertions there, so I'll bet that I'm just as full of baloney as the HR lady. But not quite, I'll bet. 


  1. You're pretty much right on the money CJ.

    Another reason to not hire young/new people: Training takes time. Why take the time to train someone to do the job when you can hire someone who has recently been laid off from another company and has been completing the same role for 20+ years?

    The young/new to this field are screwed.

  2. I have the feeling this guy will not give up his job until you pry it out of his cold, dead hands:

  3. That's not entirely true - plenty of baby-boomers comfortably retired. You know them - they are the people who sold you your home, the one that's 50% underwater.

  4. CoulombicExplosionApril 15, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    With the stock market finally catching up to pre-recession highs, I hope that some of the folks who were originally planning on retiring sometime during the past ~5 or so years might finally be able to.

    Although I agree that we won't suddenly see a plethora of openings, I'm thinking (wishfully) that this will have an above-average contribution to job creation relative to the typical year's retirement cycle. Given the approximate duration I gave above, let's say there's ~5x the average number of people looking to retire this spring/summer while the market is high and before the next bubble bursts. As we (I think) are in a very slow recovery, I don't see the percentage of these open positions being out-sourced or closed altogether as being any different than the past couple of years. Then again, maybe I'm just being optimistic.

    1. The Aqueous LayerApril 16, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      People are working longer for a variety of reasons, most of which are economic, but also because they simply like doing what they are doing. People are also living longer, and the cost of getting old is increasing at a rapid clip, not to mention the cost to put your kids through college. Older people aren't retiring because many of them can't afford to. Most people don't put enough money away for retirement.

      Say you're a 60 year old who is making $150K and likes their job. Why would you retire, especially if you like living the lifestyle that your salary affords you? Not many people have that kind of scratch in their 401Ks to keep living at that income level.

      I don't expect this economic upturn to convince older folks to start to retire at a higher rate.

    2. That second paragraph hits a little close to home. There are quite a few of those 60+ year old folks at my current company who do the bare minimum to keep a job (some even less). And the worst part to me is that I can't blame them. Worst case scenario? They get fired for doing nothing. They were going to retire anyway. At least they can soak the company until it pisses the wrong person off.

  5. Maybe we are just being sad-sacks, but I know a lot of early 30 somethings, with jobs, that are pretty sure we will never get a chance to retire. Maybe once we start making what we were told a Ph.D was worth at the beginning of our undergrads. These post-docs and temp-jobs are killing us. My parents only finished high school and by the time they were my age (32) were making twice what I make (tool & die trade). My Dad keeps telling me to join the business, he says I could make 60k my first year as a machinist. Guess we are just in the wrong industry.

  6. I think what you will be seeing more and more is people that train for a profession (like chemistry or law) will be losing good employment in their 50's simply because they can be easily replaced with an individual who is younger, just as skilled, works more hours, for less money. In other words, the span of time that an individual will have good well-paid employment on average will decline in the US, while our life span increases (and health span declines, thanks to the obesity epidemic).

    Smart professional people may realize that good employment is temporary and may not take on the risk of having children, or getting married at all.

    Yup. This will turn chemists into PUA's.