Americans are old and having fewer kids — at huge risk to the economy

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NEW YORK (CNN) — America's population is aging and millennials are having fewer kids than older generations did. That's a risk to the US economy that is not receiving as much attention as concerns about interest rates, the trade war and corporate earnings.

The longer-term risk of slowing population growth "poses particular economic challenges," said David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds, in a recent report. He is concerned policymakers are not addressing the issue, which could hurt the market, especially if some of President Trump's proposed plans for "merit-based immigration" and increased border security are enacted.

Kelly will talk about this, as well as other factors affecting the markets and global economy, with CNN Business editor-at-large Richard Quest on the "Markets Now" live show Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET.

Kelly said that the combination of retiring boomers and a shortage of working-age Americans creates a problem that "is particularly awkward for the economy." He added that this trend should "persist throughout the 2020s."

That's why Kelly advises that the United States "should probably be having a serious conversation about temporarily boosting, rather than reducing, immigration, at least while the baby boom is retiring."

"This would allow us to supply the economy with extra workers to match the inevitably swelling number of dependents," he said.

Slower US growth likely as population ages

Kelly noted that there are numerous other issues that the United States will have to contend with because of these demographic changes — another reason why the government "should work to reduce both trade barriers and the level of the dollar to help US businesses access faster-growing markets overseas."

Investors in the United States need to prepare for earnings growth to slow, bond yields to keep falling and for returns, in general, to be lower, Kelly says. And he thinks the demographic trends will hurt the job market.

"Home-building and auto sales will not be the boom industries that they typically have been in a strong economy in the past," Kelly said, adding that "there will be an ever-increasing proliferation of AI and robotics in the economy to compensate for a lack of workers."

That's why Kelly believes "a plain vanilla strategy of betting on strong US growth overall is likely to produce disappointing results." He argues that investors need to "take advantage of faster growth overseas, particularly in emerging markets that face less of a demographic challenge."

"Markets Now" streams live from the New York Stock Exchange every Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET. Hosted by CNN's business correspondents, the 15-minute program features incisive commentary from experts.

You can watch "Markets Now" at from your desk or on your phone or tablet. If you can't catch the show live, check out highlights online and through the Markets Now newsletter, delivered to your inbox every afternoon.

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