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Young vs. Old in the Labor Market


A recent New York Times article noted that millions of Americans have delayed their retirement due to plummeting 401(k)s, lack of confidence in Social Security benefits and increasing health care costs. Due to the increase of older workers in the labor market, younger workers are facing a scarcity in available jobs in certain industries.

According to recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed workers ages 16 to 24 has fallen by two million over the past two years. Yet, the number of working Americans age 65 and over has risen by over 700,000 over the same time span. In a decade perspective, the number of working Americans age 65 and over has risen 11% from 10 years ago. The number of working Americans age 16-24 has fallen 10% from a decade ago. The employed number for Americans in the age range of 25-29 has fallen 7% from a decade ago.

Recent college graduates are finding it hard to break into certain industries. Younger males with little or no college education have felt the harshest employment impact because they often are the first to be laid off in an economic downturn. People in this category found jobs easily when the economy was healthy, but they now face the greatest competition from older, more experienced workers. At the same time, many older workers say they suffer from age discrimination in certain industries as some employers tend to favor more youthful and energetic employees. "In a bad labor market, different groups perceive that they're being discriminated against when the real problem is they're being mistreated by the overall economy," said Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School of Social Research and author of "When I'm Sixty-Four."

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