Here's the fact Glaeser reported: Between 2007 and 2010, the number of working Americans over the age of 65 jumped by 16%.
Consider the difference between today’s extended work life and the average American work life during the mid-20th century in the midst of what was, in retrospect, a retirement boom. Again, the numbers present a vivid picture: from the ’40s to the ’80s, the percentage of men who were 65 and older in the labor force fell precipitously — from 47 percent in 1949 to 15.6 percent in 1993. By the 1980s, retirement at age 65 was nearly universal for American workers. Today, however, 36.5 percent of 65- to 69-year-old men are still part of America’s labor force. (The number of working women in this demographic is slightly lower.)Another change: prior to 2001, most of those working past 65 had part-time jobs to supplement their retirement. Since then full-time work has been more common.
Here's my thought: It seems logical that this is a factor in the current unemployment rate for younger workers. If a person retires at 65 and a younger person gets that job, the retiring person does not go into the unemployed statistics. But, if the 65 year old decides to keep working until 68 and the job doesn't open up for a younger person, that younger person might wind up on the unemployed list.
So: why isn't this a factor in the rising unemployment rate and especially in the reported rate of joblessness? I don't mean the main factor, or maybe even a highly significant factor. But why isn't it ever talked about when discussing the job situation?
Glaeser discusses it briefly, only to dismiss the "lump of labor fallacy," in which there is a finite amount of work to be done and delayed retirement robs younger people of jobs. He says that instead older workers can afford to buy more things than retired workers, hence they increase market demand which leads to more jobs for younger people. Thus having more older workers actually increases jobs for younger workers -- so Glaeser says.
I can see that it might work that way in affluent times with low unemployment; but what about when we have a recession? Like now, when we have a shrinking market demand and high unemployment, because people don't have money or are afraid to spend? No market demand, no new jobs. So each job becomes more competitive.
Besides, it seems it would be different if (1) people delay retirement because they still feel like working and it will allow them to afford more luxuries, or (2) people delay retirement because they can't afford basic living expenses on their shrunken retirement fund and savings.
I'm a little hesitant to pit my "kitchen table economic reasoning" against the economic experts. But this makes sense to me.