Why the workforce is shrinking to 30 year lows

Seniors and women are leaving the workforce in high numbers
By Oregon Tax News

As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, USA TODAY reports that the working population fell to its lowest level last year since women entered the workforce nearly 30 years ago. In 2010, only 45.4% of Americans had jobs. This rate is down from 49.3% in 2000. Economists blame the poor economy and aging workforce.

In 2000, the census reported about the same number of children and non-working adults. Currently, the population of non-working adults has grown 27 million with only 3 million children under 18. The discrepancy in the numbers could be a result of the aging workforce. 77 million Baby Boomers born from 1946 through 1964 are reaching retirement age. The fact of the matter is that retirees are more expense than children. According to federal education and retirement program data, taxpayers will spend about $125,000 educating a child and $500,000 caring for a senior based on today’s dollars at current life expectancies.

However, aging may not be the only factor leading to a decreased workforce. The National Science Foundation determined that female executives are more likely to leave their jobs than men. John Becker-Blease, an assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University, along with professors from Loyola Marymount University and Trinity College, analyzed data from Standard & Poor’s 1500 firms. They classified executive departures as voluntary or involuntary based on careful examination of public news accounts accompanying an executive’s departure. Their study showed that 7.2 percent of women left their jobs, whereas 3.8 percent of men left their jobs. The data remains the same for both the voluntary rates (4.3 percent versus 2.8 percent for men) and the involuntary rates (2.9 versus 0.9 percent).
The factors leading to a declining work force could stymie job creation in Congress as legislators struggle with the budget battle at a time when there are no more funds for stimulus or tax cuts.

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