Baby Boomers Encouraged to Work Later, But No One Wants Them 

Dmytro Zinkevych /
Dmytro Zinkevych /

It’s an unexpected consequence of Bidenomics. Older Americans can’t afford to retire because of rising prices, but as they age, these Americans are edged out of the workplace. 

In the coming years, the elderly population reaching retirement age will expand to its largest size ever. This demographic shift is expected to strain Social Security resources, overwhelm retirement facilities, and create labor shortages. 

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, proposed a “solution” to this impending retirement crisis in his annual March letter to shareholders. He suggested that individuals should “increase their savings” and extend their working years to avert economic hardship. The Social Security retirement age is 67, but many Americans leave the workforce earlier. Encouraging more individuals to work into their late 60s and 70s could help alleviate the forthcoming crisis, Fink suggested. 

His suggestion is at odds with the realities most Americans face as they age. No one can afford to save any money in today’s economic landscape. Many older individuals face barriers to employment due to disabilities or caregiving responsibilities. And few people want to be forced to work until they can no longer physically enjoy the fruits of their labor. 

But a more significant challenge is that those willing and able to work often encounter discrimination, despite laws prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace for those 40 and older. 

Instead of promoting easier retirement savings and flexible work options, Fink’s stance creates a dilemma: The economy requires older Americans to work longer, yet many companies are reluctant to hire them. 

In Texas, Daniel Ross, a founding partner at Ross Scalise Employment Lawyers in Austin, has observed a rise in age discrimination cases over the past five years, particularly involving wrongful termination. He noted a preference among tech companies in Austin for younger employees, which makes hiring older Americans unappealing. career advisor Stacie Haller noted that certain groups of people are biased against hiring people outside their age groups, leaving older applicants out in the cold. 

The US Chamber of Commerce reports 8.5 million job openings in the US, while only 6.5 million people actively seek employment. Shortages are widespread across industries, particularly in business services, tech, hospitality, and healthcare. However, despite these shortages, many companies hesitate to hire older individuals for their open positions. 

Age discrimination is real, according to economics professor Patrick Button. Button has been testing the theory through “resume correspondence field experiments.” This tactic involves fabricating resumes to send to recruiters, each resume crafted differently according to factors such as the applicant’s age. Button and fellow researchers sent over 40,000 resumes to job openings across all industries for postings for every conceivable opportunity, from retail to administrative and even janitorial positions. 

What they discovered was eye-opening. For male applicants, the response rate declined by 3% after age 65. It was even worse for women, with a similar decline in responses starting at age 50. The results proved Button’s hypothesis with one caveat – it is even worse for females. 

His theory was further proven in a 2024 survey. Over one-third of the thousand managers who participated in the study said they were biased against hiring candidates over 60. 

Ross believes the disconnect is because companies want to establish a younger workforce to appeal to their youthful customer bases and potential employees. He said that most of his age-discrimination cases rely on circumstantial and often subtle evidence. He noted that individuals who would never make comments about race, gender, or religion might casually joke about older people, inquire about retirement plans, or engage in behaviors that create an unwelcoming environment for older colleagues.  

Fink’s suggestion that people should “work longer” is unrealistic. His solution requires older Americans to continue to work well past their prime while not suggesting avenues for finding employment in a landscape of rampant age discrimination. Aging Americans know they need to work, as surely as employers know they don’t want to hire them. 

There was a time when retirees could enjoy a simple life, choosing to work as a hobby or staying home and enjoying the life they’ve worked to establish. But that choice ended abruptly sometime in 2021, and it’s unlikely that retirees will be able to survive without working anytime soon.