It will come as no surprise that the number of Boomers who retired in 2020 increased dramatically. In the third quarter of 2020, 3.2 million more Boomers retired than in the third quarter of 2019, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center. In Q3 2020, 28.6 million Boomers said they were now retired.
Behind the sobering statistic is, of course, pandemic-related job losses. Just as important, however, is the continuing ageism that exists in the American workplace. In some ways, the pandemic has provided convenient cover for companies to practice age discrimination. It is completely acceptable and even desirable for companies to eliminate Boomers first when reducing their workforces. It's almost always a financial decision, but as I've written about many times in the past, this is largely a short-sighted strategy. Boomers are typically the most experienced and often the most loyal workers. If they have been at a company for several years, Boomers also represent an invaluable knowledge base. By eliminating Boomers, companies are discarding a brain trust that is not easily replicated. Replacing such talent and depth with less experienced, less expensive workers is downright senseless.
Still, it happens with alarming frequency. The problem is compounded by corporate hiring practices which, again, are discriminatory on the basis of age.
So what's a Boomer who wants to work in 2021 supposed to do? Many Boomers will be forced into full-time positions of lesser responsibility that pay far below what their earning history should command. Others will have to restart their career in another field, facing entry level work. Some Boomers will find part-time work more attractive, even if it's menial. A growing percentage of Boomers will go into contract work or start their own businesses. Sadly, some Boomers will simply give up and involuntarily retire from the workforce.
Thankfully, there are organizations and resources filling an important need in assisting Boomers who want to continue working. One of them is AARP, which offers a number of resources, including the following:
- The Work Reimagined website, a central point of information for older workers
- The Job Loss site, with information for those who have suffered job or income loss due to the pandemic
- The AARP Job Board, listing jobs from employers pledged to hire older workers
Do an internet search to find additional resources for older workers.
On the positive side, America's population is gradually aging, so employers who need workers may find they have no choice but to consider Boomers for open positions. Hopefully, that means we'll see more Boomers in the workforce in 2021.