The 21st Century's Changing Workforce
April 17, 1997
A new report being released today from the Hudson Institute predicts immense problems emerging within the U.S. labor force during the first several decades of the next century.
The study, "Workforce 2020: Work and Workers in the 21st Century," makes these points, among others:
- The "graying" baby-boomer generation, beginning to retire around 2020, will be followed by a much smaller generation which may not have the skills to pull the economy forward.
- If Congress curtails Social Security benefits the boomers may have to put off retirement -- thereby stalling opportunities for the next generation.
- By 2020, about 20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older, and corporations may need to find ways to balance the competing interests of this "gray America" which needs to continue working, with those of younger workers hungry for advancement.
- The graying of the workforce may also spell the end to employer-paid health insurance.
The report recommends an "enlightened" immigration policy which gives preferences to skilled workers.
It also argues that tax laws on health benefits should be changed. Instead of gearing tax incentives to employer-provided insurance, tax credits should be allowed to employees to purchase their own policies.
To build a new generation of "knowledge workers," competition in education should be encouraged at the primary and secondary levels. Private schools should be allowed to compete for students and taxpayer dollars with public ones -- to the benefit of all concerned.
Source: Perspective, "The Graying of America," Investor's Business Daily, April 17, 1997.
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