Chart Of The Day: America's Geriatric Work F(a)rce

Tyler Durden's picture

The traditional excuse apologists for America's collapsing labor force participation rate use every month is that due to "demographics" and retiring baby boomers, increasingly more old workers are no longer counted by the BLS and as a result, are skewing the labor force. That's where they leave it because digging into details is not really anyone's forte anymore. This would be great if it was true. It isn't.

A month ago in "55 And Under? No Job For You" we presented visually and quite simply that of the 3.3 million jobs "created" (updated for October's data), a gasp-inducing 3.8 million has gone to workers aged 55 and over, or the one cohort that according to conventional wisdom is retiring, and actively leaving the workforce. How can America's elderly workers account for more than the total? Simple: workers in the young (16-19) and prime (25-54) cohorts have cumulatively lost a whopping 1.3 million, with just the 25-54 age group losing 842,000 jobs (don't believe us: spot check it right here courtesy of the Fed).

In other words, America's edlerly are not only not in a rush to retire, they are reentering the workforce (thanks to the Chairman's genocidal savings policy which has just rendered the value of all future deposits worthless thanks to ZIRP), and in doing so preventing younger workers, in their prime years, from generating incremental jobs.

And nowhere is this more visible than in today's jobs report. On the surface, the US generated a whopping 413,000 jobs (after generating a massive 873,000 last month) according to the Household Survey in October. That's great, unfortunately breaking down this cumulative addition by age cohort confirms precisely what we have said: all the jobs are going to old workers, who have zero wage bargaining leverage (as they just want to have a day to day paycheck). To wit: when broken down by age group, the total October increase shows that of the new jobs, 10.7% went to those aged 16-19 (source), 11.6% went to those aged 20-24 (source), a tiny 9.8% went to the prime agr group: 25-54 (source), and a massive 67.8% went to America's baby boomers: those aged 55 and over (source), and who refuse to leave the workforce and make way for others.

Visually, this is as follows:

But the most eye-opening chart is this one showing jobs in the 25-54 and 55 and over categories:


And one wonders why America's labor force has no bargaining power, and why average hourly wages are imploding, and why nobody can afford anything anymore...

Finally, all of the above excludes previous disclosures that the bulk of jobs created in the past 4 years is in the part-time job catergory.

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LFMayor's picture

Long on WalMart greetahz, bitchez.


Mark Carney's picture
Bank of Montreal customers not able to access accounts, system down




Just keeps on happening doesn't it......

TeamDepends's picture

Wow, did anybody catch Larry Silverstein on Bloomberg just now?  Twitch much, Larry?  OMG those eyes!!!

redpill's picture

This is the legacy of ZIRP.

nope-1004's picture

Old American Dream:  Leave home at 19, marry at 23, wife stays home with kids, small home in suburbia, retire at 62.

New American Dream:  Live in Mom's basement 'till 32, marry at 33, finance house / cars, divorce at 35, unemployed 'till 50, foreclosed home, 11.7 year old clunker, re enter workforce at 58 stocking shelves, waiting for Mom's Will to take effect to pay off student loans.

Thanks Greenspan and Benocide, you pricks!

Financed livinig is causing social upheaval.  The "buy now, pay later" mantra has killed society.  Now we work for a living, not a life.



jballz's picture


yes muppet, you can and you should. Keep their scalps in the freezer though. There will soon be a bounty on them and they will pay well. 

Probably you shouldn't talk about it much until the bounty is formally announced though. 


GetZeeGold's picture



I might be old...but at least I've got a job.


Sign the loan papers for your education at Harvard.....we might be able to use you in about 30 years or so.


Don't call us....we'll call you.

Marley's picture

"On a long enough timeline, every hate site will show itself",

Come on Tyler, falling ratings are hell but you at least can make a small effort to control your dogs.  Marla at least banned a few of the more blantant bigots.  Or are you just too busy helping the NE get back on it's feet to notice?

onthesquare's picture

new meaning to "Seniors Discount"

GetZeeGold's picture



We'd give a discount to young people.......but we already know those guys can't afford jack.

Mattress Money's picture

My Lincoln is 11 years old i do not consider it a

Mattress Money's picture

My Lincoln is 11 years old i do not consider it a

FreedomGuy's picture

I would add to that, "Apply for disability, SNAP and any other assistance programs while in mom's basement".

We have sold our future to the devil. His name is "Government". He offered the classic promise, "Do whatever I say and I will give you all you want." So, we gave up huge parts of our income for guaranteed healthcare, retirement income, a free "Rascal" if we get fat and even more with Obamacare on the horizon. Only it isn't going to pay off. It's a sort of ponzi. Those of you who retired early in the ponzi did get the payoffs. The latter ones will watch the system fail.

I predict a generational war coming where the young will learn to hate and despise the old...who actually have more assets and income than they do but want still more so they can go to the casino's and live on the golf courses.

You silly collectivist dreamers!

Diogenes's picture

Reading comprehension a weak point with you? Let me sum up: the point of this article is old people are staying in the work force or re entering the work force in large numbers. Not because they want to, because they have to. Company pensions disappeared when the companies went broke. Government pensions are hanging by a thread. They lost almost half their stock and mutual fund accounts in 2008 and pulled the money out just before the S&P took off and liquidated the rest trying to keep afloat. The value of their home equity and fixed income investments have fallen to practically nothing. They would much rather retire but can't because they have been robbed.

FreedomGuy's picture

I read very well. The point of my post and the point that lies just beneath this article is a coming generational conflict. It did not have to be but we have sold our economic souls to the goverment devil. I am one who has been through mulitple layoffs, cashed out all my 401k's, taken pay cuts, helped others in my family and trying to defend myself from the impending economic disaster that is approaching. I am not a unsympathetic bystander. My mom still works because her variable annuity pays absolute zero thanks to Bernanke. I helped her buy a newer car even though I need to re-save for my retirement. I help both my kids as one has been laid off and the other actually went to a foreign country for work. My entire family outside of the retirees has been laid off in the last few years, including me, twice. To add insult to injury I got a huge tax penalty and bill for a loan against a 401k. I have paid enough taxes getting laid off and having to cash my government plans to fund my own retirement. However, the government now has all that money through various means.

So, do not think I am some smug commentator. I am in the middle of the economic storm. I am at the tail end of the boomers and most things go fully bankrupt about when I retire. I am resigned to it even as I lobby for changes now. I am telling you what is on the horizon.

I often attend and even occasionally speak at Tea Party or conservative groups. They are rather conservative and even somewhat libertarian leaning. However, bring up Social Security and Medicare reform and watch the immediate change in demeanor and discussion of the grayer members. They become raving Democrats in some cases. They don't even really trust anyone to reform the programs for the future generations. The government-statist trap has worked to perfection. It is so good that when the ponzi collapses it is most likely that a majority will clamor for yet MORE government intervention and control. We have sowed the wind and we are soon to reap the whirlwind.

GetZeeGold's picture



He can read AND think.....pretty impressive actually.

Bobbyrib's picture

First, let me say I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I do not blame the government entirely for our predictament. I will say it's bullshit that they tax us so much and friviously spend our money on nonsense. I blame multi-national CEO's for our troubles as well. They send jobs overseas and also import labor via the visa program to lower wages. There should be a concentrated effort to spend less on these bastards' products and support companies that produce items in this country using American citizens as their labor force.

FreedomGuy's picture

Bobbyrib, thans for your empathy. I am doing okay and holding my own...much better than a lot of my friends.

I understand your sentiments and I agree with a part of them. I have a son who works in China. He teaches English and is going to marry a nice Chinese gal. I have met their whole family and they are actually nice people. I have also seen the factories and industrial zones in some areas. It is impressive. I have seen new construction everywhere and it is impressive. They blast and build right through the old. I will not say more here on it, but I think China is about to go into a major fail mode itself. It is still an uncoordinated centrally planned state and they have badly overshot.

What China is doing is that they are doing capitalism better than us in many ways. I will tell you that I could probably start a business there in no time with fewer hassles than anywhere in America. I watched Rudi Guiliani on TV talking about how he had ten new small power generators built in NYC while he was there. He said he only did small ones because they fell underneath Federal regulations, especially EPA. Try to build large ones and the environmentalists and Feds will tie you up for ten to fiteen years. This will not happen in China. Also, China has created special enterprise zones with little or no taxes for companies. We now have the highest corporate income tax rates in the world...although France may compete for that title again.

So, if you are an American company who wants to build or rebuild a plant here in the USA and you are looking at rafts of regulations, hostile environmentalists with lawyers, the highest tax rates in the world as well as huge labor laws, hostile unions and a possible pseudo-socialist interested do you become in other locations anywhere in the world? I mean just think it through rationally. There are often huge costs in transportation and tariffs using another country but it may still pay. Also, use just taxes. If America increases corporate tax rates including dividends from say 20% to 35% and you need to show a profit how will you make up the new taxes? One way is to lower your cost of production and move it overseas. You cannot change the tax rate and it is a zero sum game. Also, let's say you love your many actually do. If government doubles corporate tax rates over time what are the odds you will get a big raise or improved benefits? What are the odds you will get asked to take pay cuts and lose your benefits? Does this not make sense? Is it not eminently logical? Does it not make socialists look like morons?

Last, Bobby, consider property rights. Say you own a business. You put all your money and 401k cash outs and home equity loans in it. Do you not have a right to trade with anyone you want? It is your financial butt on the line, right?  Let's say you make ballcaps that sell at a market price of $15/each. If a U.S. company will make you ballcaps at $9 per cap, a Chinese company at $2.50 and a Greek company at $1.50 with a $4 tarrif, though, should you not be able to decide? Maybe some are better quality or more reliable delivery or long term friends. You will take all that into account. However, at the end of the day, do YOU not own that business? Assuming all other factors are equal and you buy the Chinese product your margin rises considerably. Can you not then give your current employees raises, pay back your loans, finally trade in your spouse's 15 year old car, donate more to your favorite charity and now sponsor that little league baseball team? What if you buy American and now don't make your overhead and have to close? Even the American factory will go out of business, right?

The bottom line is that if America is the best place to do business, make money and make products we will prosper. I believe all American companies and many foreign companies want to manufacture and sell here. That is what history shows. When we treat businesses like cows to be milked or even cattle to be slaughtered they will go elsewhere. This is socialism 101.

I do empathize with your desires. The question is how we get there. I posit liberty as the best choice.

Element's picture

This is NOT Greece! ... oh ... wait ...

GetZeeGold's picture



Yeah.....not yet. Coming soon though.

Totentänzerlied's picture

Try telling an elderly person not to vote because imposing your will on the young when you will drop dead any day now is staggeringly unethical, not to mention the fact that they as a block vote for more handouts to be paid for by whogivesafuckcauseitaintme AKA the young and unborn. You will experience a tsunami of self-righteous rationally and ethically bankrupt horseshit and indignation at the very notion of prohibiting anyone (other than felons and aliens) from voting.

Not only do they vote, they vote more than any other age cohort. A society in which the elderly hold the most power over the future is inviting misery and extinction. It is sickening. And the fact that voting changes nothing is irrelevant because voters BELIEVE it does, they have no excuses.

mrpxsytin's picture

The elders of a community have traditionally been the holders of power in terms of decision making. So I do not see this as a problem.

However, the problem is that the 'elders' in our society are, on average, too ignorant and selfish, to understand that their job is to decide what is best for the community, and not just themselves. 

If any elderly people are reading this please consider this: your job is to see that the young people in your community have the best chance for success as is humanly possible. Don't forget that. 

FreedomGuy's picture

However, the elders were generally not able to confiscate the work of the other and younger members. They were also not divided from them. Government divides us into various interest groups and makes us able to steal things from other groups with less long as we empower the government.

Think of the division in this way. Your kids go to public school and you have to fight about the Pledge, prayer in school, school dress, freedom of speech, the vegan low calorie lunch menu and liberal indoctrination by the government union teachers. Then we fight about how much to pay the government noncompetitive workers. If we all went to our own schools there would be no conflict as we would pick what suits us best. So, we all have the same medical care and retirement plan and we have to fight about how it will work and who will pay for it. Elders are the biggest voting block bar none and they have the most similar interest in that 100% of them get Social Security and Medicare. No other group is so united.

GeezerGeek's picture

Speaking of SS and Medicare, I'm amused (distressed?) by the political ads running here in Florida. Republicans are lambasting Democrats because Obamacare took $710+ billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. Once upon a time Democrats were lambasting Republicans for trying to kill Medicare, back when Gingrich proposed plans that would allow Medicare to "wither on the vine". Being in the awkward position of philosophically being opposed to both SS and Medicare, yet of the age where I benefit from both, what do I do?

As a warning to those who have saved in IRAs or 401Ks, hoping to achieve lower tax rates upon retirement (as if that will ever willingly happen for anyone under 60) the truth is that SS is taxable once one's income passes a certain point. My wife still works, I get a decent amount in SS, and once I start taking money out of my IRA the tax bite suddenly starts climbing. Using a 2011 tax program, I calculated that my effective tax rate on IRA withdrawals can get up over 20%, depending on how much I withdraw. 'Tax deferred' apparently is yet another subterfuge meaning BOHICA.

FreedomGuy's picture

Good warnings and I agree. I think the tax rates will be higher in the future is we do not change course. What I like is how Democrats will criticize Republicans for the same things they themselves want to do. There were anti-Romney ads here about how he raised taxes. I had to laugh as that was part of Obama's platform. When you act like a Democrat and God knows Romney does very consistently...the Democrats still do not give you credit or love you. Also, the electorate tends to vote for the real thing which is what so many Republicans just cannot grasp.

Anyway, all government programs are going bankrupt as the nation goes bankrupt. To get lasting change we need political revival. IF we are going to be free then we have to reject government as the source of all things. IF we embrace government as the source of all things then we will have to pony up the real amounts of money it takes to fund the bloated, inefficent, uncaring machine to deliver the goods.

If you have ever been to China and not just the tourist attractions you would feel guilty having people far poorer than us fund our deficits, especially since we are likely to default or make them take a haircut one day.

I think the system will crash in my lifetime and maybe in the very near future. There is no will to take less from government, discipline government or pay for the things we actually get. We are just Greece on a larger scale and a few years behind. Congratulations, my fellow citizens.

jvetter713's picture

Somewhere in between living in mom's basement and unemployed until 50 you forgot:

Finally realize the time spent learning underwater basketweaving to get my shiny diploma was nothing more than a scam and a complete and utter waste of time.

GeezerGeek's picture

Talking about underwater basketweaving is, considering the recent underwater activities in NJ and NY, a bit insensitive, isn't it? Not that I mind, since I left NJ a long time ago.

JPM Hater001's picture

The only thing you missed was the Anti-Depressant phase.

TeamDepends's picture

Larry reacted swiftly that fateful day.  He called the worlds' fastest demolition firm who were on site in 34 seconds and had the building ready to go (down) in three minutes....

Ima anal sphincter's picture

If one was rigged, they ALL were rigged. Murder and lies brought to you by the US Government and a bunch of asshole bankers.

Paybacks would be REAL nice.

flacon's picture

Hey! Easy there. He was just doing "god's work". 

GetZeeGold's picture



Pretty sure we could fix all this if we could just kill that lone guy that junked him.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Well, when you are a central figure in one of the biggest conspiracies of our time, and also just happened to have profited massively from it...even if you have a tiny little conscience, it starts to get the better of you.

NotApplicable's picture

Conscience, or merely massive fear of discovery?

You'd think he'd be hiding out with Corzine, Lay and the rest of the gang...

Skateboarder's picture

Cuz even the average apathetic monkey, were they to know the truth, would fucking rip the eyes out of their sockets if they surfaced in public eyes in a world where truth exists.

harami's picture

In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

rambo1028's picture

"Truth is treason in the empire of lies." Ron Paul

GeezerGeek's picture

In a time of universal governmental deceit, telling the truth is a terrorist act.

Stock Tips Investment's picture

This phenomenon is happening in many countries. Apparently, companies prefer to hire people with more experience, because of the widespread belief that hard times ahead (even more). Consequently, people with more experience, might be better able to deal with this period.

boogerbently's picture

You kids amaze me.

YOU GUYS are the only thing that is "our" (baby boomers) fault.

So, you want us to quit work and give our jobs to you.

While our retirements are cut in half, and....AND you don't want us to get the Soc. Sec. $$ we have been paying into since we were 15!!!


Anything else we can get you underachieving, spoiled brats?

Your ELECTED OFFICIALS have been spending your "borrowed" money (you DO want your school loans forgiven, don't you?) NOT your parents.

You know, the same clowns you will put BACK in office next week!

WillyGroper's picture

They can't help it. They were sexually tranmitted.

TheKinski's picture

And what is the median age of our elected officials?

boogerbently's picture

THAT is the only blame I which I refered.

centerline's picture

Remind me of what age demographic votes the most?  Fuck off Booger.  Your only making a fool of yourself here with notions of how the ponzi is everyone else's fault and needs to continue just a wee bit longer so you can cash out.  THAT sir is definition of spoiled, or entitled, whatever you prefer to call it.

TitleZ's picture

With all due respect, Old Man Booger, your perspective amazes ME.  Collecting the Soc. Sec. entitlements that you have been promised will only be possible if my generation can find work and begin to pay into the system.  I'm 32.  I will also have been paying into the system since 15, but it likely won't be there for me when I am your age.  So while you lecture us for being lazy, we can easy point the finger at your generation for screwing the pooch without any regard for how it will affect succeeding generations.  


Seems like the only way forward is for ALL of us to get used to the idea that we may end up with somthing less than what we expected.  For you to get all of your entitlements, my generation will need to sacrifice all of ours.  Where is the shared responsibility in that?

The silver lining in this giant, flaming bag of shit we call the current state of fiscal affairs is that maybe some of us youngins will not jump into the credit-fueled spending orgy that has taken root over the past few decades.  I'm preparing to fund my own retirement.  I'm going to pay my law school bill within the standard 10 year plan.  My wife and I will not be hyper-consumers like our parents.  All of this requires us to make sacrifices now for a better tomorrow.  Then maybe, just maybe, we will be able to pass the torch on to our children before we need to work into decrepitude.