– Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, which is good for a rainy day, 42 degrees, which is what we’re experiencing here in late Idaho May.
You cut through the foam, it’s nice.
Brewed in New York, sure, cold farm vibe (laughs).
– Hi, I’m Claire and I’m here to talk about everyone’s favorite subject: boomers versus millennials.
Just kidding, I am going to talk about the baby boomers a little bit though because it’s impossible to understand the current economic, demographic, and even cultural landscape without them.
The first thing you need to understand about the baby boom cohort is that it’s huge.
The name doesn’t do it justice.
At their peak in the 90s, the baby boomers numbered nearly 79 million.
So as that mass of people pass through all the phases and institutions of American life, they couldn’t help but change and shape them.
Nowhere is that more true than the workforce.
– [Man] It has some sort of-
I feel like I’m doing the Delco thing of swallowing all my Ds.
The boomers were basically a hiring manager’s dream.
They were educated, they were mobile, they were eager to climb the corporate ladder.
They were hungry for opportunities and willing to market themselves for them.
And most importantly, there were just so many of them.
As the boomers were growing up, women were joining the workforce in numbers unprecedented since World War II.
So by the time the boomers are looking for the, sorry-
– [Man] Still making noises.
Let’s go, let’s go.
– So by the time the boomers are looking for their first jobs, you’ve got a prime age workforce bigger than we’ve ever seen since.
And more people in that pool are participating in the labor market than ever before.
Like I said, a hiring manager’s dream.
Under these conditions, companies could basically shop for talent like you might shop at the grocery store, picking and choosing the way I look for my exact favorite brand of 2% raspberry, blueberry blended Greek yogurt.
(laughs) Sorry, when I wrote this-
The way I look for my exact favorite brand of 2% raspberry, blueberry blended Greek yogurt, companies could decide on their ideal combination of education, work, experience, and skills, and pick and choose from multiple qualified candidates.
The idea of building your own talent made about as much sense as making my own yogurt does to me.
– [Man] Yeah.
That’s why we have this.
– All the breaks from talking.
Here’s the problem, though.
Boomers might have made permanent changes to our hiring norms, but they’re not a permanent fixture in the labor market.
Every year about two million baby boomers retire.
Last year, three million left the workforce.
That’s a staggering jump in the course of the year, but it makes sense.
Boomers built a huge amount of wealth and have a high net worth on average: .2 million per household.
They can afford to retire, and this year, with offices closed and fewer ways to spend money than ever, there were probably some diminishing returns to workforce participation.
The boomers were like a floodtide.
They changed the whole landscape when they came in, and it became easy to think that the new landscape they created would be permanent, but the tide is going out.
When the boomers finish exiting the workforce, their absence is going to be felt painfully, and the hiring norms they built probably won’t be sustainable without them.
So next time you see a boomer, thank them.
They won’t be around forever.
This has been Beer with Emsi, thanks for joining us.
To learn more about these issues, check out our new report, demographic drought.