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Sha na na na … get a job

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Posted: 3 pm ET

Aging boomers continue to be the big dogs of the workforce. If you are 55 and older and your retirement planning includes looking for work, here's good news.

Despite the Great Recession and the slow recovery, the number of jobs held by people ages 55 to 64 grew 9 percent from 2007 to 2013. That's  a gain of 1.9 million jobs. By comparison, the number of jobs for millennials, ages 22 to 34, rose a meager 0.3 percent during the same time period, according to data aggregated from government and private statistics by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a company owned by employment website "Never in history have workers over the age of 55 had the concentration in the workforce they have today," said CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson in a press release.

Does this mean that boomers delaying retirement are pitted against their children for workforce opportunities? Not exactly. Ryan Hunt, senior career adviser with CareerBuilder, says the jobs that survived the downturn and that are now on the increase are positions that require experience. "Entry-level work for new graduates is what has dried up," he says.

As boomers retire, there will be more positions for millennials. Hunt believes many of them are already available in the skilled trades -- physical jobs that boomers are relinquishing more quickly than positions in other fields. "There are increasing numbers of good, middle-class opportunities in hands-on jobs in welding and construction," Hunt says.

In the meantime, if you are a boomer with skills and experience, you still will have a leg up finding a job compared to millennials in many fields, Hunt says.

Fields where boomers are in demand

Employment services firm ManpowerGroup identifies these jobs as the hardest to fill in 2014 and says boomers with experience and skills in these areas will find lots of opportunity:

  1. Skilled trades
  2. Restaurant and hotel staff
  3. Sales representatives
  4. Teachers
  5. Drivers
  6. Accounting and Finance
  7. Laborers
  8. IT staff
  9. Engineers
  10. Nurses

In the chart below, CareerBuilder, using information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, identifies parts of the country where older workers dominate, as well as areas where the job opportunities for boomers are growing fastest. Put this information together, and it's clear that boomers with the right skills who want a job can probably find one -- especially if they are willing to move. "Boomers who are mobile late in their careers can often find good jobs," Hunt says.

Metros with highest share of jobs held by boomers

Rank Metro Percentage share
1 Pittsburgh 17.7%
2 Hartford, CT 17.2%
3 Cleveland 17.2%
4 Philadelphia 16.3%
5 Providence, RI 16.2%
6 Portland, OR 16.1%
7 Tampa, FL 16.0%
8 Rochester, NY 16.0%
9 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 16.0%
10 Milwaukee 16.0%

Source: BLS, Current Population Survey, annual averages: 2007, 2013

Metros with fastest job growth for boomers

Rank Metro Growth
1 Houston 23%
2 Austin, TX 22%
3 Salt Lake City, UT 18%
4 Dallas 18%
5 Denver 16%
6 San Antonio, TX 16%
7 San Jose, CA 15%
8 Indianapolis 15%
9 Pittsburgh 14%
10 Nashville, TN 14%

Source: BLS, Current Population Survey, annual averages: 2007, 2013

But before you jump in the job pool, consider this: To thrive in this job market, you may have to work with and for your children. "People need to understand that they'll be working in a multi-generation workforce. It is becoming normal to have four generations in a single workplace -- grandparents and grandchildren working together collaboratively as peers. That can be difficult," says Jeff Gerkin, senior vice president of Right Management, a consulting company owned by ManpowerGroup.

Millennials and boomers come at work differently, Gerkin says. To succeed, "Boomers have to become more agile and collaborative and stop thinking that millennials are just lazy," he says, laughing.

He advises boomers who want to stay in the workforce to work harder at managing relationships, both multi-generational and multi-cultural, because if you can't get along with the work group, you'll wear out your welcome fast. "If all you do is espouse what you know without listening to what you don't know, nobody will listen to you," he says.

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