From the Detroit Free Press (pdf):
We’ve known for a long time that baby boomers are hitting retirement age. Those retirements will drain from the workforce a vast amount of skills and experience.
But the loss to the workforce may go beyond the loss of the boomers themselves. Since a huge number of privately held companies are owned by people 55 to 65, the retirement of those owners poses an unsettling question: What happens to all their employees?
Worst-case scenario: Unless succession plans are put in place, some portion of those thousands of Michigan firms owned by boomers may close. New research on this so-called Silver Tsunami estimates that as many as 400,000 jobs in metro Detroit could be at risk from this phenomenon.
The estimate, released by the Center for Community-Based Enterprise and performed in partnership with Oakland, Calif.-based Project Equity, shows that nearly half of all privately held businesses in metro Detroit are owned by boomers who may retire in the next 10 years. Billions of dollars in sales and payroll could be at risk.