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TheStreet Open House

Will Surge Of Older Workers Take Jobs From Young?

The same is true with older workers, they argue.

"There's no evidence to support that increased employment by older people is going to hurt younger people in any way," said Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research and the co-author with Wu of "Are Aging Baby Boomers Squeezing Young Workers Out of Jobs?"

" It's not going to reduce their wages, it's not going to reduce their hours, it's not going to do anything bad to them," Munnell said.

Still, many remain unconvinced.

James Galbraith, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, has advocated for a temporary lowering of the age to qualify for Social Security and Medicare to allow older workers who don't want to remain on the job a way to exit and to spur openings for younger workers.

He doesn't buy the comparison of older workers to women entering the workforce and says others' arguments on older workers expanding the economy don't make sense when there are so many unemployed people. If there was a surplus of jobs, he said, there would be no problem with people working longer. But there isn't.

"I can't imagine how you could refute that. The older worker retires, the employer looks around and hires another worker," he said. "It's like refuting elementary arithmetic."

The perception has persisted, from prominent stories in The New York Times, Newsweek and other media outlets, to a pointed question to Rep. Nancy Pelosi last year by the NBC reporter Luke Russert, who asked whether her refusal to step out of the House leadership (and the similar decisions of other older lawmakers) was denying younger politicians a chance. A chorus of lawmakers around Pelosi muttered and shouted "discrimination," until the Democratic leader chimed in herself.

"Let's for a moment honor it as a legitimate question, although it's quite offensive," she said. "But you don't realize that, I guess."

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