Firms Brace For a Worker Shortage

Last spring, when Daimler Chrysler offered early retirement to thousands of older autoworkers, it got more than it bargained for. So many people accepted the deal that the company faced a potential shortage of critical skills at its plants and had to withdraw some offers. With half the auto industry's work force eligible to retire in the next five years, Ford and GM took Chrysler's lead and scaled back their early-retirement programs.

In the wake of the past year's downsizing, and with the economy growing again, it won't be too long before the rest of corporate America follows the automakers in...

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