Reaction: Younger Workers Not Happy About Older Workers Still On the Job

Jennifer Shaw, founder of Shaw Law Group, is a well-respected expert in employment law for more than 20 years. We asked her perspective on a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that shows younger workers aren't particularly thrilled to see a rising share of older Americans forgo retirement and continue working.

The poll found that workers under the age of 50 were significantly more likely to view America's aging workforce as a negative development when compared with their older counterparts. 

About 4 in 10 respondents ages 18 to 49 and 44% of the youngest respondents ages 18 to 29 said they consider the trend to be a bad thing for American workers. Just 14% of those age 60 and over said the same.

"I don't think in things like IT and medicine you're as effective a worker (at 65 years old) as you are at 50," says Katie Otting, a 29-year-old living near San Diego. "If some 65-year-old is in a position that he's not ready to quit because he wants a better pension and there's someone else ready to take that job, they're not going to replace him."

An aging population, elevated health care costs and lingering financial uncertainty following the Great Recession all are believed to be contributing to America's steadily graying workforce. Nearly 20% of Americans over the age of 65 were employed or actively looking for work last year, up from less than 12% two decades prior, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the increased prevalence of older workers has led some to believe seniors are holding back the country's economic momentum by remaining in the workforce. Men were slightly more likely than women to cite the aging workforce as a problem for U.S. workers (32% to 27. And about a third (34%) of more affluent respondents earning more than $100,000 annually said the same, slightly more than the 24% of those earning less than $30,000 who said so.

By contrast, about 6 in 10 Americans age 60 and over say the trend has actually been a good thing for the economy, compared with 3 in 10 Americans under 30 who think that.

Jennifer Shaw

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