NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Worker Demographics

April 12, 1999

Labor shortages can be blamed partly on the fall-off in births in prior decades, demographers point out. So if the economy continues to race ahead, employers will have to race one another to recruit new employees.

  • From 1996 to 2006, the percentage of workers ages 25-34 will shrink 9 percent -- and those in the 35-44 range will slip 3 percent.
  • The birth rate dropped in the years 1965 to 1977, causing the number of workers ages 20 to 24 to fall 13 percent during the 1980s.
  • The impact was first felt by industries that depend on hiring the young -- such as retailing, high-tech and the military.
  • Most other industries were shielded by a 22 percent growth in workers ages 25 through 34 from 1980, and a 55 percent growth in workers ages 35 to 44.

Many companies have responded with benefits targeted at young workers -- such as offering tuition assistance. Still others have stepped up hiring of older workers.

Experts say the shortage of older workers will prompts businesses to support measures that raise the minimum retirement age for collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Source: Del Jones, "Lower Birth Rate Drains Labor Pool," USA Today, April 12, 1999.


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