Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Should the US raise the age of retirement?

When President Franklin Roosevelt created the Social Security Administration as part of the New Deal, his goal was to create a safety net for poor elderly Americans. Retirement age was set at 65, when life expectancy was age 63. In other words, the benevolent federal government was willing to take care of the folks who made it that far– realizing that most wouldn’t.

At the onset of Social Security, there were 40 workers contributing to the Social Security fund for each retiree. Fast forward to 2010, when the US life expectancy is 77.7 years, there are now 3.1 workers for each retiree drawing benefits. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, the ratio of workers to retirees will become more lopsided.

Baby Boomer retirements also will contributed to a future labor shortage. Although the US is currently in a recession and unemployment is at 9.7 percent, by 2018 a US labor shortage has been projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to government figures, there will be 15.3 million new jobs in 2018. With work force participation among Baby Boomers decreasing, only 9.6 million of these jobs will be filled, reports the Wall Street Journal. Depending upon retirement rates and how many people hold multiple jobs, this could leave 3-5 million jobs vacant. Along with creation of new jobs, the US workforce will become much more diverse with a 33.1 percent increase in workers of Hispanic origin vs a 4 percent increase of workers of non-Hispanic origin. Rates of Asian and African American workers also will increase.

To solve the labor shortage and the Social Security’s looming financial problems, some are calling for raising the full retirement age to 70 and tying it to life expectancy. (If this happens, there may be a mass exodus of Baby Boomers moving to Europe where the retirement age is 60! Time to brush up your foreign language skills.)

What’s a country to do? Personally, I don’t support raising the retirement age to 70. Yes, many people are physically capable of working at age 70, but will they have the skills for these newly created jobs? I see a skills disparity among workers now. As an employer, when I have a task that requires high level computer skills, I give it to my 20-something employee, not my 60-something employee because I know he can get it done more efficiently, and if he doesn’t know how to do that particular task, he knows how to seek web-based resources to accomplish it.

Since the US will need young, capable, industrious workers in this decade, why is there such an outcry against the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for undocumented people currently living in the US?

Why is are there calls for checking papers at K-12 schools and denying education to children who live in the US?

Why? Because it is politically expedient.

In this era of partisan-fueled xenophobia, I believe that our country– and particularly our state– should take a pragmatic look to the future, discard the racist rhetoric, welcome people to this land of immigrants, and offer them an education. We’re going to need them.

This article originally appeared in my Baby Boomer Examiner column. (In the photo above– my parents.)


This entry was posted on June 4, 2010 by in Arizona, Immigration, retirement and tagged , .

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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