An aging working population and a shrinking labor market are putting the United States at risk of being outclassed by Latin America, according to research from the MetLife Mature Market Institute - though it could actually benefit older workers, whose skills will be needed, helping them offset their retirement.
A huge boom in the labor market in Latin America and the Caribbean means that business and industrial growth in the next decade may be seen in those regions, whereas the U.S. is expected to continue to lag behind. Mexico and Brazil are particularly poised for massive growth, the institute reports.
While the U.S. labor force grew 8 percent between 2000 and 2010, to about 154 million workers, in Latin America, growth took place at 24 percent during the same period, creating a labor pool of 281 million.
In the decade ahead, growth in the U.S. market is projected to slip to 7 percent, while Latin America's labor pool growth will only continue to escalate, at a projected 18 percent.
As a result, American workers are more likely to stay on the job past their traditional retirement age - and the institute suggests that may become more of a necessity in the future, not just out of workers' lack of retirement planning skills or financial security.
"These labor force projections could have a huge impact on older Americans, many of whom will remain in the workforce beyond their 65th birthdays," said Sandra Timmerman, director of the institute.
"Beyond the fact that there is a need for them to keep working, they are also remaining in the workforce because they can, due to improving health conditions for older people and the evolved nature of work."
At present, workers aged 65 and over still only make up less than 10 percent of employees and even fewer are actively working, though MetLife's research suggests that older workers will indeed become more prevalent in the future.