The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Squeezed Out of the Labor Market

Feb 7, 2011

USA Today recently wrote that “The number of people 55 and older holding jobs is on track to hit a record 28 million in 2010 while young people increasingly are squeezed out of the labor market.”

They might as well come right out and say it: “Older workers are taking jobs away from younger people.” Because this is the lie they are pushing. It’s far from reality: a fiction created to pit younger people against the older workers.

It is correct that growing numbers of older workers are looking for work. In 1993, 29% of people older than 55 years were in the work force; today it’s 40%. This is a huge increase.

At the same time, the unemployment among older workers increased three times over the last 10 years. This is another record high.

Older workers continue to work not for the fun of it – but because they are squeezed from every direction. Starting in the early 1990s, company pension plans with secure benefits gradually disappeared, even while many older workers lost their savings to stock market schemes. Decreasing wages and home prices, increasing cost of living and health care, and economic crises further contributed to these losses. And they often were helping to support their adult children.

Older workers today do not retire or stay retired because they cannot afford to. There is no adequate retirement income to do so, although they have worked for companies for a long time and deserve to be comfortably retired.

Companies know that many older workers are desperate and try to use this desperation to their advantage to cut the wages not only of older workers, but for everyone.

But the biggest lie pushed on us is when the bosses’ front men say, “there are only so many jobs to go around” and therefore someone must go without.

Older workers are not the reason for younger workers’ unemployment, as they want us to believe. This capitalist society, which cannot create enough work for everybody and decent retirement income for the older people, is the problem.

Current social and economic conditions set a trap for all of us.

If the bosses cannot provide enough jobs for all, then let them divide up the work among all those who want to work, giving us all a full pay check. They caused the problem – let them pay for it!