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Column: As boomers exit the workplace, job market improves

Recently, in our business section, we ran a wire story that was filled with good news about the economy. By 2020, McClatchy-Tribune reported, there will be 55 million new job openings; 31 million will be the result of baby boomers retiring.

With the good news, some worries, of course. A labor shortage of 5 million workers is expected, and workers with college degrees and/or specialized training will be in high demand.

Randy Barcus, former economist for Avista, was right on target again.

In August 2010, I interviewed Barcus for my “Wise Words in Troubled Times” series. The economy was in the toilet.

The unemployment rate stood at 9.6 percent, 54,000 jobs disappeared from the economy that month and workers who escaped from the private sector to government jobs were realizing no workplace was safe as government layoffs began in earnest.

But Barcus (who retired a year ago) said this in 2010: “When will we get back to 5 percent unemployment? Ten years.” Which would mean 2020, exactly what was reported last week.

Barcus explained in 2010 that part of the reason for the predicted low unemployment rate in 2020 would be “a labor shortage in the country, because (of) all these boomer retires.”

So boomer bashers in the younger generation, take heart. Jobs are beginning to open up now, thanks to boomers finally exiting the workplace. And this exodus will continue in a steady march. So stay in college, as four of the five fastest growing jobs will require college and post-graduate degrees.

Or figure out those specialized training skills (hello electricians and welders!) that will be in great demand by 2020. And Barcus, thanks again for your wise – and amazingly accurate – words of wisdom three years ago.

ACT 2: The Community Colleges of Spokane ACT 2 program, designed for baby boomers and seniors, has several fun and interesting summer classes starting this week. Tai Chi, iPad lessons, Aqua Zumba and the Life and Times of Sen. Joe McCarthy. That’s just a small sampling.

Find out more at or call (509) 279-6027.

THE AGING PARADOX: Marlee Moser, 77, of Pullman sent me her poem “Observations of My Aging Anatomy.” I don’t intend to publish poems in this column on any regular basis, but this one captured so well the body losses you can focus on that only the mind can counter.

Moser said that when her daughters and stepdaughters, in their 40s and 50s, started lamenting their aging bodies, she thought “Get used to it” and then sat down and wrote this poem.

Also, Moser said: “I’m a retired nurse and nurses are taught to observe signs and symptoms, and these are signs and symptoms of aging that I noticed.”

Time is changing and rearranging the body I’ve always known.

Here’s some ways that it is shown.

I’m losing height. Got cellulite.

Neckline sags. Eyes have bags.

My little chin now has a twin.

Memory – slower. Breasts – lower.

Wider butt, bigger gut.

Got wrinkles, crinkles and age spot sprinkles.

Don’t even want to mention

all the problems with digestion.

Hair is thin. So is skin.

Arms grew flaps. I take more naps.

I’m still grieving my eyebrows leaving.

It’s all depressing, I’m sadly confessing.


A spark of sanity cries “lose the vanity.”

Shouldn’t complain. Don’t have bad pain.

I’m up and about, not down and out.

I can move and I can see. Do what is important to me.

I won’t be stressed. I know I’m blessed in so many countless ways.

I offer God thanks and praise!

ALZHEIMER’S SUPPORT: The New Yorker magazine recently published an article outlining hopes for a study that will target brain changes in people who are “pre-Alzheimer’s” – delaying or stopping it. Even if the research proves fruitful, it will come too late for those with the disease now.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and within 12 years, 7.1 million will have it, a 40 percent increase.

The Alzheimer’s Association Inland Northwest Chapter has been supporting people with Alzheimer’s – and their families – for decades. On July 15, the chapter will start an early-stage support group in Post Falls for people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners. It will meet every Monday, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., for 10 weeks. Registration is required. Call (208) 666-2996.

And on July 16, from 4 to 6 p.m., the chapter is sponsoring a “purple party” at the Deaconess Health and Education Center, 910 W. Fifth Ave., in Spokane, for people interested in forming teams for the Oct. 5 Spokane Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Call (509) 473-3390.

For more events of interest to boomers and seniors, go to

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