Are more Helen Thomas moments on workforce horizon?

Are more Helen Thomas moments on workforce horizon?
Are more Helen Thomas moments on workforce horizon?

Former White House reporter Helen Thomas' rant against Israel was more than a "senior moment," but the forced retirement of the 89-year-old is a lesson in what the future of the American workforce could look like.

Not that more elderly workers will be telling people where to live in a racist tirade, but that the uninhibited talk of seniors who say what's on their mind won't fly in a customer service job. And physical limitations could hamper them from doing certain jobs. As more people work longer -- in their 70s, 80s and beyond -- the American workforce will change and so will its effects on employers, employees and customers.

"You can't say "Blow it out your nose' to a customer you don't like," said Dr. Paul Baard, a Fordham University professor and workplace psychologist.

Eighty million baby boomers are approaching retirement, according to a Wall Street Journal story, which points out that we're about to become a nation of Helen Thomases because, among other reasons, people live longer, pension plans and Social Security can't be counted on, most people save too little, medical costs are rising, much of their savings was lost in the stock market, and long-term interest rates have fallen. All of these factors will lead to more people working beyond what was normally considered retirement age.