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Workplace Changes Mean Both Disruption and Opportunity for Boomers

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Hey, all you baby boomers who are still actively engaged in the workforce: you think the last decade has brought an avalanche of change and disruption? Well, according to a newly-released workplace study, you haven’t seen anything yet.

That’s the conclusion we drew as we read this article just published on the website NextAvenue. The article is written by Richard Eisenberg, a columnist who often writes about issues pertaining to money and work. He is quoting from a new report from the management consulting firm Bain and Company called “Labor 2030.”  As Eisenberg writes, “Your working world is in for major disruptions between now and 2030.” The Bain study adds that “The depth and breadth of changes in the 2020s will set apart this transformation from many previous ones.”  The study itself bears the ominous subtitle, “The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality.”

But as we read further, it became clear that all the news in this new era of workplace upheaval is not bad for boomers – quite the opposite, in fact.  In what Eisenberg calls “the bigger surprise,” the Bain study reveals that “Some of those disruptions will make it easier for people in the 50s and 60s to keep working, find jobs and start businesses.” He calls that “a noteworthy trend.”

Most of us are familiar, at least to some degree, with the barrage of changes in the American workplace over the past decade or so – or if we haven’t experienced those changes ourselves we know others who have. Companies have learned to do more with few workers, causing many older workers to fear for their jobs. The specter of automation – robots taking over jobs traditionally done by humans – has many employees worried. And as the digital world has come into full bloom, major “disruptive influences” such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have forever changed the employment landscape. If you’re a worker in your 50s or 60s, these can definitely be unsettling times. So it’s encouraging to read articles like the one in NextAvenue that suggest some of the workplace doom and gloom is definitely unfounded.

Writing in NextAvenue, Eisenberg says that the main reason for the good news is a severe and growing labor shortage.  Ever since today’s boomers (plus many more women) began entering the workforce in the 1970s, the number of American workers has remained abundant – but no more. The Bain study predicts only a 0.4 percent annual growth rate in the labor force all throughout the 2020s. “With workers in shorter supply, the Bain analysts say, employers will be eager to hang on to the ones they have and entice applicants, including older ones, to join them,” says Eisenberg. “Baby boomers will remain an important pool of talent through 2030, when the youngest cohort of that generation will only be 66.”

In addition to being able to keep your job longer, you may also benefit from greater flexibility on the part of your employer. That’s because of what Bain calls “the war for talent” that is going to drive companies toward new work arrangements, new training opportunities, even new types of employee benefits. Eisenberg is quick to add that, sadly, this doesn’t mean the end of age discrimination, but the need for skilled, experienced workers may cause employees to be much more open to hiring senior workers for part-time and independent contractor roles, which are the very types of jobs many older workers say they want as they contemplate a “partial retirement.” This will be a huge benefit to the large number of people in their 60s who are on the threshold of retirement but lack sufficient savings to be able to afford anything like their present lifestyle.

There is certainly one dark cloud on the employment horizon referred to in the NextAvenue article, and that is the danger of growing inequality among seniors.  Eisenberg quotes a senior Bain official who says that the outlook for well-educated higher-income seniors who want to keep working into their 70s is bright – but the picture is less rosy for blue-collar workers, especially those lacking a solid education and decent health. In fact, the Bain report predicts that the bottom 40 percent of older households “may see their income and workforce participation decline due to health reasons.”

And what about those robots who are coming to steal our jobs?  “Bain believes the rapid spread of automation may eliminate as many as 20 to 25 percent of current jobs,” says Eisenberg, “equal to 40 million displaced workers.” Unfortunately, those hit hardest will be the ones least able to afford it, especially blue collar workers making between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. However, the ones who will actually benefit from growing automation, says NextAvenue, are the entrepreneurs. With everything from bookkeeping to marketing to inventory management to customer relations services now available from established digital providers like Amazon, SalesForce and PayPal, the coming era may herald a new wave of entrepreneurial opportunity for boomers looking to reinvent themselves once again.

No matter whether you’re planning to retire next near or in the next decade, sooner or later it’s almost a certainty that you will retire – and that means you need a solid plan in order to make certain you’re thoroughly prepared.  But it’s vital that you understand that a retirement plan is not the same as a financial plan. Making plans for your money is essential, of course, but far too many retirees overlook other equally vital aspects of retirement: legal protection, medical coverage, housing options, and even family communications. Without considering these, you may sadly find yourself unable to avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones as you watch your hard-earned assets drain away.

Instead, come join Rajiv Nagaich soon at a free AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar and discover the power of a LifePlan – the only retirement plan we know of that takes all the critical facets of retirement into account. For a complete list of upcoming seminars, click here – then register online or contact us during the week. It will be our pleasure to show you the potential of an AgingOptions LifePlan to change the way you experience this exciting phase of your life. Age on!

(originally reported at

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