This item originally appeared in the Dec. 11, 2003, issue of The Tech Talk.
By JORDAN MARSHALL
With the Baby Boomers about to retire, more jobs will be open for Americans in the next couple of years.
Some students, such as Wes Anthony, a sophomore computer information systems major, know that they will be able to find jobs when they graduate because of economic changes and their particular field of study.
"I'm majoring in computer information, and I'm not really worried about not finding a job for two reasons: one, I'm sure the economy will change, and two, the computer field is constantly expanding and growing," Anthony said.
Andrew Neilson, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said he thinks that since the Baby Boomers are such a large group of people and most of them hold important positions in the economy, the younger generations will have to "step up and fill the hole."
Neilson also said he thinks when the Baby Boomers retire the unemployment rate will fall, but a lot of experience will be lost.
Social Security is another issue that Americans are worried about today.
Dr. Gary Stokley, an associate professor of social sciences, said the people on Social Security today do not want the government to change anything, but the government will need to face this issue within the next couple of years, because there will be no more money for the people paying into the system.
Dr. Cathy Martin, an assistant professor of social science, said right now there is more credit in the trust funds that fund Social Security than is required for payment of benefits, but by 2025 revenue coming into the trust will fall below the level of benefits being paid out, and by 2037 the fund may be depleted.
"That means there will not be enough money coming in from payroll taxes to pay all benefits promised; coupling declining birth rates with increased life expectancy means that as the Baby Boomers begin to retire, a smaller generation of workers will pay for the benefits of a larger number of retirees," Martin said.
Martin said some possible solutions are raising the age of eligibility for benefits, cut Social Security benefits, increase revenues by raising payroll taxes and make the affluent elderly ineligible for benefits.
Anthony said he is not worried about Social Security.
"Social Security does make me think about if it will still be there when I need it, but I know that it is a major concern and politicians and many people are working on a way to resolve the issue," he said.
On the other hand, Neilson said he is worried about the Social Security issue as the Baby Boomers get older.
"I think [Social Security] will be a trap, because as the larger and older generation begins to rely on Social Security, the responsibility for them will fall to the smaller and younger generations," Neilson said.
"The question is, will they be able to keep up, or will it really put our economy in a bind?" Neilson said.
Students today are going to have to learn how to handle the Baby Boomers retiring and the Social Security issue.
Neilson said he knows it will affect him but he said handling it will be something he will have to worry about when he is older.
"The government already holds a good portion out of paychecks for Social Security and other programs, and with these systems being under such a heavy load, that portion could increase in years to come," Neilson said.
Some possible problems in the future of the economy include the increase of low-paying service jobs, Martin said.
Many of the low-paying jobs do not pay a living wages and the number of people who are classified as the working poor is increasing, Martin said.
"We are moving away from producing manufactured goods, which usually paid better, to producing services," she said.
Even with more jobs opening, the problem with Social Security will still remain as the Baby Boomers grow into retirement.