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ObamaCare won’t cost America 2 million jobs, but the end of the Baby Boomers probably will

Big-time hubbub on the 2014 political front: ObamaCare is going to cost America 2 million jobs! Every Democrat is vulnerable! And…

In reality, this isn’t going to happen the way it’s being discussed, but the amount of people in the U.S. workforce is declining, and will only decline more in the next 25-50 years:

Labor

I’m taking an employee engagement class at school right now, and often we discuss the whole millenials vs. traditionals vs. Boomers vs. X-ers vs. Y-ers thing, depending on when you start to define those terms. Broadly, a “Baby Boomer” is someone born between 1946 and 1964. Within 15-25 years, the workforce is going to have a lot less of them (death/retirement) and that’s going to continue to shift the American workforce. It’s very good in some ways — more traditional ideas can give way to more tech-centered ideas, possibly improving workflows — and very bad in others (there are some estimates that America doesn’t actually have the workers in other generations to cover the retirement/death of the Boomer generation). Boomers could be living longer, or they might not be — we’re better off with health technology than we were in the 1920s, to be sure, but we also have more threats and more obesity, etc. They’re also not really retiring. Factor in things like “robots taking jobs” and “the attitudes of a current 22 year-old to work” (probably not broadly ready to grind out the 80-hour/weeks up the ladder), and you have a drastically shifting workforce and work context in the next quarter-century. That’s not ObamaCare; that’s generational shifting.

I’d save communication styles and employee motivation for a different post, because this is a little more about jobs numbers — although I think the two tenets of a big company in 25 years might be “flexible locations” (although that sucks too, because more flights is probably not great for the world as a whole) and “e-mail replacing meetings,” which actually could be a good thing if certain people learn to use e-mail effectively — but the big picture here is that whatever Republicans and Democrats want to say in 2014 and beyond, you can’t link any drop in jobs to a specific President or policy. We’re broadly all about to be working less, as a whole.

Ted Bauer

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