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The First Wave of Boomers Hit 60: What It Means to You and the American Workplace

Dr. Greg Ketchum, 01/07/06

2006 is barely a few days old and already a major milestone has been reached with the first wave of Baby Boomers turning 60 on January 1st. There are approximately 78 million Boomers born between the years 1946 and 1964. They’ve had such a huge impact on each stage of life in that their generation is two to three times larger than the generations that preceded or followed them. Consider these numbers to see why the first wave of Boomers turning 60 is such a big story.

  • Approximately 25% of today’s workforce will leave the workplace by the year 2010 creating an enormous loss of skills and knowledge.
  • In the next 7 years the number of workers between the ages 35 and 44 will shrink by 7%.
  • 330 people in the US will turn 60 each hour in 2006. 10,000 Boomers turn 50 every day.

Now, we Boomers have redefined each stage of life as we’ve gone through it and the first wave of Boomers hitting retirement age is no different. Consider these statistics from “The Merrill Lynch New Retirement Survey” on how Boomers plan to approach “retirement” differently from their predecessors.

  • 76% of Boomers plan to continue working past the traditional retirement age.
  • 56% plan to enter a whole new career in their early sixties.
  • 13% say they plan to start their own businesses

The Biggest Change In Retirement
The biggest way Boomers will revolutionize retirement is rather than seeing it as the ending of their work life they see it as a new beginning in their lives. It means the freedom to choose what type of work to do next, how to bring more meaning into their lives, going back for more education and the opportunity to pursue long-held dreams that had to be put off due to the needs to have families and build careers.

What Does The First Wave of Boomers Turning 60 Mean to You?

  • For Boomers: It’s time to start planning what’s next in your work life on your own terms. Specifically, look at…
    • how you can parlay your current job into a consulting opportunity or part-time work.
    • the new career you want to start or new business you want to create.
    • the education you want to pursue.
  • For Younger Workers: It’s time to…
    • Find a “boomer mentor” either someone in your field or someone you admire for the way they’ve managed their career
    • Consider going into one of the fields that will grow due to Boomers reaching retirement age such as health care, education and businesses that cater to part-time workers and entrepreneurs.

Finally, remember that during the Gold Rush in 1849 the people who were selling shovels and picks and other tools and supplies that enabled people to launch their new careers as miners did pretty well for themselves, in fact better than many of the miners.


®2006 All rights reserved. Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D.

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Dr. Greg is the “KRON 4 (San Francisco) Workplace and Career Expert”

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