Innovation in the aging workforce: WSJ got this one wrong

The WSJ Heard on the Street section printed an article today, “Older US Workforce Has an Ugly Wrinkle” sparked a few thoughts for my post this morning.  

  • First, was a statistic. 40% of the US population over 55 is working or looking to work, the highest ratio since JFK was president. Demographically I found this interesting mainly because the ratio of 55+ Americans to the population has increased since the 1960s. The open question to me is, does the 40% go up from here, as baby boomers reinvent what retirement means? Or does it go down as the pain of the recession begins to wane and nest eggs are more confidently restored?
  • Next, “on the positive side, the declining share of manufacturing in the economic mix… Should make it easier for many to continue working”.  Let’s stop right here and google the age of the author writing this piece. Innovation will come to manufacturing too. BMW proved it in this HBR article a few months ago. where the workforce mix of the future was artificially created in one of the most heavily labor intensive lines, and the team innovated around the effects of an older workforce. (a 7% productivity gain to boot thank you very much).
  • And lastly, a comment on higher savings rates. Yes, the WSJ is probably correct that savings rates will increase (that used to be a problem we bemoaned, remember that?) However, depending on your outlook on health care costs, it’s certainly likely that more income is directed to health care, and less to savings.

Now those are just my thoughts, someone who has not yet made it to the 55+ demographic… Please chime in and put me in my place Boomers!


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