By: Kimberly Durment Locke
Regardless of whether you support the current presidential administration, there’s no debate
when it comes to admitting that the U.S. economy and job market are thriving. The numbers are
in and they show that the unemployment rate for November 2018 was a low 3.7 percent,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The last time the U.S. unemployment rate hovered
that low was in 1969, bureau data shows.
That pretty picture translates to a humming-along-economy where a majority of businesses,
large and small, have been and continue to be on a hiring spree. So why are so many Baby
Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, finding themselves being displaced (a kinder,
gentler way of saying “laid off”) by Corporate America? These are the same workers who, in
many cases, patiently continued to build their job skills and waited their turn for promotional
opportunities only to be shown the door years before they are eligible for retirement.
It seems BIG business has decided to maximize their profits in this booming economy by
“displacing” or trading in many of their Baby Boomer employees for the younger, less
experienced Millennials. Translation: why keep paying Boomers their higher salaries and adding
to their future pensions when they can be replaced by the younger, less experienced and
consequently, cheaper workers, the Millennials?
It does make good business sense. However, this trading the old for the new has direct negative
consequences for the Boomers who often find themselves unemployed before they can
realistically retire and collect benefits. Just as important is that this approach will have lasting
and potentially devastating financial consequences for the Millennials too. Why? As companies
weed out Boomers and focus on recruiting Millennials, these same companies are also
seriously scaling back their benefits packages. For example, defined pension plans that give
employees something to count on when they do retire are quickly becoming as rare as the Hope
Diamond. These are the same type of pension plans that previous generations benefitted from
so their “golden years” could actually have some gold in them in terms of financial security.
It’s also highly likely that Social Security will raise the eligibility age for Millennials to begin to
collect without a penalty or reduction in benefit. Couple that delay in benefits with possible
increases in tax liabilities related to Social Security benefits and the future for Millennials doesn’t
look so bright.
It might be beneficial for Boomers and Millennials to take a good look at what’s happening and
demand a fair shake from Corporate America as it continues to undercut benefits for the
younger generation while kicking the older workers to the curb all in the name of “doing