New Study: Economy Needs Older Workers’ Experience And Knowledge

“Planning to retire in the next few years? Please reconsider: The economy needs you more than you know.”

So begins a Wall Street Journal article which cites a new study that concludes, according to WSJ, that “Rapid retirements deprive companies of critical experience and knowledge, which undermines productivity across the entire economy.”

The authors of the study say that “An older worker’s experience increases not only his own productivity but also the productivity of those who work with him.”

Senior worker with level, looking at the camera

The WSJ quotes one manufacturing HR manager as saying that:  “As your employees who have been working in manufacturing start to retire, you’re not just losing people, but that knowledge and experience is walking out the door.”  The article says that she commented that “basic skills and aptitude for math and mechanical learning can be trained to do manufacturing work, but what her company really missed was experience.”

Interesting counterpoint to those employers who seek to replace older with younger workers.

However, to those who would understandably cheer the result of this study as lauding older workers’ positive impact on the workforce, the article drops in a quiet — and politically explosive — aside.  In the heat of a ongoing, particularly charged national debate about the possibility/desirability of privatizing social security, and/or raising the age for eligibility, the article concludes (shows its hand?) by commenting on “the urgency of overhauling both the private and public pension systems to encourage later retirement, by shifting benefits to favor later retirement and reducing tax penalties on earnings for those who are already collecting Social Security. The payoff: a more solvent pension system and a more productive economy.”

Just wondering…


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]