Clear on a Monday here on California’s north coast with the skies still dark and chilly. Weekends move much-too fast and always it seems the first day of the week is the quickest on the draw.
Beautiful weather around these parts, though, with Saturday and Sunday both bright and warm; more sunshine expected the rest of this work week, and maybe beyond.
And beyond the present, I plan to retire at the end of this summer, Social Security, Medicare, the whole bit. Old people do it all the time, but for us Baby Boomers, the end makes the top way-too heavy — seemingly, there’s not enough young people down in the work trenches to keep the financial ball rolling. Or maybe there’s just too many of us ancient assholes.
Right now, there’s 76.4 million of us boomers, nearly a quarter of the whole population.
Although the world as a whole is also getting older, the US does have a stop-gap to aid the future — Millennials, or Generation Y.
By now we’re all familiar with the plight of the millennial generation, those born after 1980.
They owe the bulk of America’s $1 trillion in student debt.
They have little or no savings.
A third still live at home with their parents.
Those with jobs are often underemployed and underpaid.
Not only have they delayed the typical trappings of adulthood—marriage, home, kids—they may be stuck in perpetual adolescence.
Millennials do have one big thing going for them: numbers.
At 4.3 million, 23-year-olds are now the single largest age group in the U.S.
According to U.S. Census data, there are more people in their twenties (44.5 million) than in their thirties (41 million), forties (41.7 million), or fifties (43.8 million).
This is good news for twenty-somethings, who will benefit from their overall size through the economic growth they’ll create.
It’s even better news for the economy, which will need every penny of taxes they pay and consumer demand they generate to offset the impact of 70 million baby boomers entering retirement.
“The tragedy is that these young people will have to carry the enormous burden of the retiring Baby Boom for the bulk of their working lives,” says Milton Ezrati, senior economic strategist at the investment management firm Lord Abbett.
Without them, though, the future would be dire.
“They will mitigate what would otherwise be a much greater strain on the economy.”
If not for this bulge of young people, the U.S. would look a lot like Japan and Europe, which both lack a relatively large number of young adults to offset graying populations.
While all three had Baby Booms after World War II, only the U.S. saw its birth rate increase in the 1980s and ’90s after two decades of decline.
“This youth bulge is what makes the U.S. special right now,” says Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank (DB).
“Though they may not be as well-off on an individual basis, their sheer size will help overcome that. The simple act of adding more workers will by itself create more wealth.”
There’s already evidence that those in their early twenties are faring better than those a little older.
After three years of declines, the median household income of a 22-year-old born in 1991 jumped to $30,000 last year.
That’s 5 percent more than what those a year older than them were making when they were 22.
The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is still 11 percent, but that’s down from 13 percent two years ago.
They’re not crushed by debt.
Says Emmons: “The data suggests that the younger millennials have been the most aggressive at avoiding and paying down debt.”
I take umbrage at ‘these young people will have to carry the enormous burden of the retiring Baby Boom for the bulk of their working lives,’ but what can us old folks say — as boomers, one must really remember, our shit don’t stink.
In 2029, projections supposedly show 71.4 million Americans will be age 65 or older, about 20 percent of the population, up from the current 14 percent.
This apparently is a worldwide trend — populations are aging quickly.
Via The Atlantic over the weekend:
As early as 2030, the percentage of Americans 65 and older could surpass the percentage that is younger than 15.
“This is uncharted water,” according to Paul Taylor, who researches demographic and generational changes at the Pew Research Center.
This trend isn’t confined to the United States.
Between 2010 and 2050, global population growth is forecast not only to slow but also to be strongest among older age groups (the phenomenon is blunted somewhat by rapid population growth in regions such as Africa).
In fact, the shifts are even more pronounced in some European and Asian countries than they are in America.
Demographers anticipate that by 2050, the majority of people in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Germany will be older than 50.
By mid-century, China, in part because of its one-child policy, will have an age pyramid resembling a “top-heavy trapezoid,” Taylor said in a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
In Germany, deaths have exceeded births every year for the last four decades.
And the most dramatic manifestation of the phenomenon is in Japan.
“Japan has among the lowest birth rates in human history,” Taylor explained.
“It has among the greatest advances in human longevity in human history. And, frankly, it doesn’t cotton to immigrants all that much. Immigration tends to make countries younger.”
Most alarming, working-age people in developed countries are supporting an increasing number of dependents, threatening social-welfare services.
It’s the reason why programs like Social Security and Medicare, in their current form at least, are unsustainable for future generations of Americans.
“Today, 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65. And tomorrow, another 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65. And the next day, and so on every single day between now and 2030,” Taylor said.
When members of this generation go from being taxpayers to beneficiaries, “you suddenly have a social compact between old and young that doesn’t work anymore.”
As a small sprig of grass in a big, huge yard, I really don’t understand retirement as a thingy, especially in a crowded old-people’s park as we all scream in unison: “Get off my lawn!”
Despite the jokes, this upcoming event scares the livin’ shit outta me. Since June 1965, I’ve worked at all kinds of jobs over the years and the fundamental form of life was getting up for whatever the work. And in two months that will end, at least in my particular old-fashioned way. And the anxiety levels are way-up yonder.
Social Security won’t be enough, I’ve no savings and it looks like some kid of part-time employment will be in the works, at least part time, to compensate for the shortage.
All I can mutter under my weakened breath is boom-la-la-boom fuck!
(Illustration out front found here).