What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain
by State Representative Leon D. Young
It has been nine years since the Al Gore global warming movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ presented a dire view of the consequences of global warming in our world.
Call it what you will: “global warming” or “climate change,” regrettably, not enough has been done to address this very serious menace to human life on this planet.
Unfortunately, there is another inconvenient truth that most Americans should be concerned about.
For decades, the retirement of the baby boom generation has been a looming economic threat.
Now, it’s no longer looming – it’s here. Every month, more than a than a quarter million Americans turn 65; which is the equivalent of 10,000 baby boomers retiring a day.
The recent Great Recession (2007-2009) may have delayed the inevitable for a time.
The financial crisis wiped away billions in retirement savings, forcing many Americans to work longer than planned.
But the stock market has since rebounded, and there are signs that more Americans are at least confident enough to leave the workforce.
The labor force participation rate for older Americans – the share of those 55 and older who are working or actively looking for work – has fallen over the past year after rising through the recession and early years of the recovery.
Roughly 17 percent of baby boomers now report that they are retired, up from 10 percent in 2010.
Nearly a quarter of Americans were born between 1946 and 1964, the typical definition of the baby boom generation.
That’s more than 75 million people. In their heyday, the boomers were an unprecedented economic force, pushing up rates of homeownership, consumer spending and, most important of all, employment.
It’s no coincidence that the U.S. labor force participation rate – the share of the adult population that has a job or is trying to find one – hit a record high in the late 1990s, when the boomers were at the peak of their working lives. However, in the final analysis, fewer workers means less economic growth.
One way to measure this figure known as the “dependency ratio,” or the number of people outside of working age (under 18 or over 64) per 100 adults between age 18 and 64. The higher the ratio, the worse the news: If more of the population is young or old that leaves fewer working-age people to support them and contribute to Social Security and the economy. And unless Congress acts, the baby boom retirement wave will eventually deplete the assets of the principal Social Security and Medicare trust funds.