History v. Now: The Fate of the Boomers
Once upon a time, the Baby Boom generation ruled the US. We were the largest segment of the population and nearly every major advancement occurred to respond to the needs of the Boomers. Last April it was reported that the Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1964, had been surpassed in population by the Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996.
The Millennials are increasing in number, as immigrants add to the American-born population. The once great Baby Boom generation, however, is in decline. We are aged 52 to 71 and are dying off at an increasing rate each year. There are few immigrants in our age group.
In our minds, Baby Boomers built this country, drove its innovation and greatness for over 50 years. We have lost much of what we had in the last 20. This last year, Boomers voted overwhelmingly for president-elect Donald Trump. They heard his simple message, directed to them, “I will Make America Great Again.” He told them he will bring jobs back to them. He promised them a bright future. Supporting Mr. Trump was perhaps the Boomers’ final rebellion.
If one imagines the Baby Boom generation represented by a big circle, and then divide it in half top and bottom, those who find themselves in the top half have done reasonably well. Those Boomers in the bottom half, however, have been left behind by the current US economy. They are the union workers in the manufacturing, dock, transportation and distribution sectors replaced by robots. They are the secretaries and file clerks replaced by computers. They are the seamstresses and piece workers replaced by Asians. Many of those jobs included pensions, now also gone as a result of bankrupt employers.
The good-paying blue collar jobs formerly owned by those in the lower half of the Baby Boom circle are gone forever. We are much older. Our backs and knees are shot. On average we’re over 60. We should be retiring soon, but can’t. We can’t “code” and don’t even know what that means. The most complicated “app” on our phones is Solitaire. Where are the jobs in this new economy, based on knowledge and high-technology rather than on blood, sweat and hard work, for your Baby Boom brothers and sisters?
President-Elect Trump, those who heard your battle cry and turned to you for help will be waiting to see how you will find them good paying jobs that they can compete for.
We hope that you have some great ideas. We, like you, are Boomers. You are our last hope.