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U.S.: Baby Boomers retire, younger people not so interested in blue collar positions

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | February 20, 2020
America's businesses face the challenge of staying competitive amid record labor shortages.
Older construction worker
Business in America   Older construction worker
To help reverse this trend and combat its consequences, a new study explains the factors causing labor shortages and how companies are filling their job openings.

Topics: U.S.

The Conference Board published the study, which features the results of its new survey of more than 200 human resource executives.

They detailed the ways vacancies are hurting their companies and how they're solving this problem.

Baby Boomers perform much of the nation's blue collar work, but they are leaving the workforce in droves. The proliferation of retiring Baby Boomers will continue through 2030.

Amid this Baby Boomer exodus, the working age population has largely stopped growing. The U.S. economy has never before experienced a swell of retirements amid near zero growth in its working age population.

The tight labor market has brought more individuals into the workforce, but participation hasn't grown fast enough to prevent it from further tightening.

Their declining workforce participation results, in part, from more of them being single, living with their parents, and having less of a need to earn an income.

The share of people not in the labor force due to disability has soared and is now at a record high, with a strong concentration in the South and the Midwest.

As a growing share of young adults enroll in four year colleges, the number of working age people with a bachelor's degree continues to increase. Meanwhile, the number without a bachelor's degree those who typically choose blue collar jobs continues to shrink.

The decline in labor force participation of 16 to 24 year olds significantly reduces the supply of workers in jobs that hire young, less educated workers. Since this trend mostly results from more young people attaining higher education, it's positive from a societal perspective.