Recent technological advances in computerization and other areas “have improved the job prospects of some workers while making others temporarily redundant” but has not affected older workers disproportionately, according to a report from the Center for Retirement Studies.
“The short-term impact of computers on older workers is especially important to understand because computers continue to automate a wide range of tasks, and older workers represent a growing share of the workforce. The ability of workers in their 60s to remain productive – even if machines change the value of their abilities – will be important not just to their own economic security, but for economic growth overall,” it says.
It said the main negative impact on jobs has been on those involving performing routine, repetitive tasks such as tabulating data and processing transactions, many of which tended to be filled by persons with less than a college education.
Meanwhile, computerization also “helped create many new non-routine cognitive jobs that required a college degree” such as computer programmers, managers, and consultants.
It added that the impact might be considered more negative on workers age 55 and over than on younger ones because they “have already accumulated significant human capital tied to their current job, and they have less time to reap any rewards from learning new skills. Thus, when machines disrupt work, older workers might be less likely to switch occupations or invest in training.”
However, it found that “like other workers, older workers experienced a movement away from routine jobs, despite the incentives they faced to try to hang on to these positions. Second, older workers also increased their employment share in non-routine cognitive jobs at approximately the same rate as other workers. One reason might be that – despite their shorter time horizon for investments in new skills to pay off – older workers learned how to take advantage of computers. Another reason is that older workers are now more like other workers in terms of education.”
“To date, computers appear to have affected older and younger workers in broadly similar ways based on their education level,” it said.