What Do Younger Workers Think of the Aging Workforce?

American employees are staying in the workforce longer these days–and not everyone is happy about it.

That’s according to a new poll from the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research of more than 1,400 adult workers. The study revealed that younger employees are far more likely than older workers to have a negative view of the aging American workforce–a finding that could spell trouble for today’s multigenerational workplaces.

When asked whether they thought people staying in the workforce longer was mostly a good thing or a bad thing for American workers in general:

  • 30% of those age 18-49 perceived it as a positive, compared with 50% of those over 50;
  • 39% of younger workers saw the development as a negative, compared with 19% of older employees; and
  • 30% of both groups said the shift makes no difference.

Respondents were also asked how they thought this trend would impact the U.S. economy:

  • 38% of workers age 18-49 saw it as having a good impact versus 54% of older workers;
  • 30% of younger employees responded that it will have a negative impact, compared to 14% of workers over 50; and
  • about one-third of each group saw it as having no impact.

Researchers also found that men were slightly more likely than women to view the aging workforce as problematic, and that those with salaries over $100,000 were more likely than those earning less than $30,000 to have a negative view of the impact of older workers.

Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, told the AP that younger people blaming older workers for keeping them from climbing the corporate ladder is not a new trend–but, it’s one rooted in falsehoods, he says.

“The more those seniors continue to work, that means they’re also spending,” Chamberlain says. “And that spending helps build a rich economy that gives you jobs and lots of opportunities.”


Avatar photo
Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.