Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Silver tsunami or gradual graying?

There are strong opinions about the upcoming "retirement wave" of the Baby Boom generation--some think employers are in big trouble as they will be forced to replace a huge number of workers with an inadequate supply, while others claim it's an overreaction. Some recent news adds credence to the latter viewpoint, at least in one sector.

According to a recent article published by the Partnership for Public Service, in 2006 and 2007 there were fewer retirements in the federal government than projected. Not only that, but the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) adjusted their retirement projections downward.

Why the change? It's the economy, stupid--or at least that's the theory. The price of gas, the housing market crash, and the reduction in pension value have all contributed to people hanging in there a little longer.

One important caveat: it depends on the job. And here's where we still have reason for concern:

"The ones most able to ignore the current economic problems are those who possess specialized and marketable skills, or who are in the higher-income brackets and can afford to weather the downturn, experts say."

This includes high-demand occupations like IT as well as those with substantial management experience.

It's also quite possible we just haven't seen the tip of the tsunami yet. But it's looking more and more likely that if economic conditions persist, we may actually experience more of a gradual graying.

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