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The Aging of the Workforce Demographic Impact The confluence of two important demographic shifts promises to reshape the US workforce over the next decade and beyond First there will be more workers over age 55 In 2000 13 percent of the workforce was 55 and older according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and by 2015 this figure is expected to rise to 20 percent During the same period the highest growth rate in the US workforce will be among workers aged 55 to 64 Haidee Allerton 2000 That change is fueled in large part by the leading edge of the baby boom population which is now crossing the age 55 threshold in large and expanding numbers It also reflects the fact that Americans are leading longer and healthier lives enabling them to extend their stay in the working world As the boomer population moves through the workforce and retires there will be more jobs than workers to fill them This is due in large part to the smaller size of the generations following the boomer cohort Consequently the US will grow older and face critical shortages of qualified workers especially in the dominant and growing service sectors of the economy Mercer survey respondents report that they generally see their own companys workforce as aging And while only 9 percent say that more than 35 percent of their employees are over age 50 today 55 percent expect that to be the case 15 years from now Anna Rappaport 2001 Source httpwwwmercerhrcom Changing Perspectives of Employer and Employee Until recently most businesses were happy to see older workers retire early rewarding them with extra benefits during early retirement window periods or providing special severance benefits during business transitions Formal phase-out programs were not a consideration When jobs had to be eliminated companies thought it best to encourage retirement-age and near retirement age employees to leave rather than terminate younger employees However according to a
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