The silvering of the workforce

Is the Silver Tsunami really a disaster?

Heard of the Silver Tsunami – the apcolyptic, musical and possibly alarmist name for the mass retirement of baby boomers? The ‘tsunami’ was predicted to cause huge labour market disruption, create skills shortages – and lower the tax take, as greying workers desert the paid workforce in droves and become dependant on a shrinking proportion of ‘working age’ people.

Never too old to rock and roll – or go to work

Someone forgot to tell New Zealanders to retire, and a suprisingly high proportion of our 65+ year olds, who danced to the Rolling Stones when they were a hot new band, are still working for money*.

I checked Statistics New Zealand’s information which showed that four-tenths of men, and a quarter of women aged 65-69 were still in the labour force, and nearly a quarter of men aged 70-74 were also still employed.

The prediced tsunami is breaking with only about two thirds of the expected impact.

But no-one quite knows what’s happening now

This information was based on the 2006 Census. Since then, we’ve had a global financial crisis, and the Christchurch earthquakes. Who knows what effect the crisis had on employment of older workers? No-one, really as the planned 2011 Census  was cancelled because of the  earthquakes. The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings will now be held on Tuesday 5 March.  I can’t wait to see what’s changed – my prediction is that an even higher proportion of 65+ year olds will be in the labour force.

* Labour force: everyone who is in work, or wants to work, for at least one hour a week. It includes the undesirable-sounding status of ‘unpaid worker in a family business’, but does not include volunteers. So, both unemployed and employed people are part of the labour force.

People who are ‘not in the labour force’ are those who don’t have a paid job – and don’t want one. 

1 Comment

  1. Tim Lee

    If this does happen i worry about the younger generation having to support the pension payments and increasing healthcare costs for our elders, and whether the government can even generate enough tax revenue to provide today’s level of social support.

    Japan is already in the middle of such an event. Their government borrowing and spending has ballooned the past 5 years and the economy has been stagnant.

    I guess we can always loosen immigration laws to increase our workforce and therefore tax revenue. Expecting our older generation to work on may not be fair, i would certainly like to enjoy my retirement years not working.

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