Saturday, May 26, 2018

EBRI Research Shows Continuing Impact of Baby Boomers on Labor Force

Research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows that the baby-boom generation has created a wave of sorts moving through the U.S. labor force for the last four decades. According to "Labor Force Participation Rates by Age and Gender and the Age and Gender Composition of the U.S. Civilian Labor Force and Adult Population," published as Research Brief No. 449, as boomers have entered each age demographic, that group has become the largest component of the population and of the labor force, and that, now, as the last of the Baby Boomers enter their mid 50s, and as they are living longer than prior generations, their impact on the age of the U.S. population and labor force is unmistakable.

Among other findings in the paper authored by Craig Copeland:
  • While the portion of the total labor force ages 55 or older continued to increase since 2007, the uptick has been primarily attributable to the continued aging of the baby boom generation into these ages, and not to an increasing percentage of older workers remaining in the labor force. Before 2007, the increasing share of workers ages 55 or older was due, both to increases in the labor force participation rates for these ages and to the large baby boom generation beginning to reach these ages.
  • From the employer perspective, the increase in the share of individuals ages 55 or older in the population and in the labor force means that employers have been, and will continue to be, challenged to provide benefits that meet the needs of these older workers, while still meeting the needs of younger workers who are starting to grow as a share of the labor force.
  • The share of the labor force that is ages 55 or older will continue to grow in the short term because of the size of the baby boom generation, but will begin to shrink as the next generation of workers reach age 55.
  • Many employers are likely to be faced with a bimodal labor force distribution across the ages–larger numbers of both older and younger workers with fewer numbers of workers at ages in between–which presents different (and possibly incompatible) compensation and benefit challenges.
Source: EBRI Press Release (May 22, 2018)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Slovakia Ruling Party Seeking Constitutional Amendment To Cap Retirement Age at 64

According to press reports, Slovakia’s ruling Smer party is proposing a constitutional change to cap the retirement age at 64, reversing a decision that had tied it to average life expectancy. Under current law, the retirement age was set at 62 years, 76 days, in 2071, and it will be extended by 63 days this year, and continue to rise every year as people live longer.

From the Slovak Spectator:
“If we do not cap the retirement age, children born this year will retire at the age of 71,” said Robert Fico, leader of Smer and former prime minister, after negotiating the capping of the retirement age with trade unions and Labour Minister Ján Richter on May 16. “We cannot simply accept this.”

The Reuters story explains:
Smer, a leftist party, originally wanted the cap at 65 years but now wants it lower after talks with centre-right junior coalition Slovak National Party.

A third coalition partner, the centrist Most-Hid party, does not back the measure but some opposition lawmakers said they were open to negotiations. Smer would need 90 votes in the 150-member parliament to pass the law as a constitutional measure.

According to calculations by an independent budget watchdog Budget Responsibility Council (RRZ), the pension age is expected to reach the cap of 65 after 2038.

Sources: Reuters "Slovak ruling party seeks to cap retirement age at 64" (May 24, 2018); Slovak Spectator "Retirement age may be capped in Slovakia" (May 17, 2018)

Finland: OEDC Working Paper Calls for Narrowing Extended Unemployment Benefits for Older Workers

An OECD working paper finds that, different working-age benefits in Finland reduce work incentives and hold back employment. In Pareliussen, J. and H. Hwang (2018), "Benefit reform for employment and equal opportunity in Finland", OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1467, OECD Publishing, Paris, Finland's extended unemployment benefit for older workers are one of several major disincentives being called out for replacement.

As pointed out in the working paper:
In Finland, those aged above 61 on the day their unemployment insurance expires qualify for extended unemployment benefits until the statutory pension age (the “unemployment tunnel”). The unemployment tunnel increases inflows to unemployment substantially, as employers tend to target dismissals to eligible individuals, and because eligible workers may voluntarily choose to use the tunnel. Furthermore, the tunnel reduces outflows from unemployment, as extended eligibility to unemployment benefits discourages job-search. The tunnel is often used as a bridge to ECO/WKP(2018)15 31 retirement, in practice extending benefit eligibility indefinitely. Indeed, the incidence of unemployment peaks at the age of 62, and the unemployed aged 62 or more tend not to search for jobs (Kyyrä and Pesola, 2017; OECD Economic Survey of Finland, 2016).
While pension reform is increasing the retirement age, its effects are not as significant as they could be because the tunnel hasn't narrowed as much:
A pension reform taking effect in 2017 raises the statutory pension age gradually from 63 to 65 years before linking it to life expectancy from 2030onwards,and increases the age threshold for the unemployment tunnel from 61 to 62 years. Increasing the pension age has put the pension system on a sustainable trajectory, but ageing costs are still expected to show up in unemployment, health and longterm care expenditures. The reform is expected to raise the average retirement age by one year, but only increase time in employment by five months due to higher unemployment.

Source: OECD Working Papers (May 25, 2018)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Latin America: Older Worker Participation Rates Driven by Lack of Access to Contributory Retirement Systems

A joint publication issued by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the International Labor Organization indicates that the lack of retirement income forces many men and women over 60 in the region to remain active in the labor market. In edition No. 18 of the "Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean (May 2018)," it was found that the lack of income from a contributory pension system in more than half of all men, and above all in women, aged 60 or over in Latin America, is the main factor for remaining active in the labor market.

According to projections made by the organizations, the proportion of people aged 60 or older in the workforce will rise from 7.5% to 15% between 2015 and 2050. This is due, above all, to the aging of the population and, to a lesser degree, a moderate increase in older adults’ labor participation.
Despite recent advances in employment formalization and the expansion of contributory pension systems, according to data from eight countries in the region an average 57.7% of people between 65 and 69 years of age, and 51.8% of people 70 or older, still do not receive a pension from a contributory system, with even higher rates seen for women. This situation forces many older people to work: the employment rate for all people 60 years or older totals 35.4% in the region, the study indicates. This proportion is elevated even in age groups that have already exceeded the legal retirement age: 39.3% in the group from 65 to 69 and 20.4% in the segment of 70 years or older. The rates are higher in countries with low coverage of contributory pension systems, the report explains.
Accordingly, Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, and José Manuel Salazar, ILO Regional Director, indicate in the publication’s foreword that "It is necessary to expand pension system coverage and supplement it with non-contributory pensions to reduce the pressure on older people to continue working, usually in low-productivity jobs, just to have a minimum standard of living at an age when societies should guarantee them the conditions to enjoy their old age with dignity."

Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Press Release (May 22, 2018)

European Commission Recommends that Luxembourg Work To Increase Employment Rate of Older Workers

The European Commission's 2018 Country-Specific Recommendation (CSR’s) on Luxembourg call for increasing "the employment rate of older people by enhancing their employment opportunities and employability while further limiting early retirement, with a view to also improving the long-term sustainability of the pension system."

According to the Commission:
The employment rate of older people remains particularly low and further measures
are needed to improve their employability and labour market opportunities. This is
also important to ensure the long-term sustainability of public finances. Early
retirement schemes encouraging workers to leave employment remain widespread,
with 59.2 % of newly attributed pensions being early old-age pensions. A law
suppressing one early retirement scheme was passed in December 2017 but its net
impact on the average effective retirement age and on expenditure is uncertain as it
eases conditions on other early retirement schemes. This poor labour market outcome
can also be partly attributed to financial disincentives to work, which are
comparatively high for this group. Encouraging the employment of older workers
requires a comprehensive strategy including measures to help workers remain in active
employment for longer. The ‘Age Pact’, a draft law submitted to Parliament in April
2014, which aims to encourage firms with more than 150 employees to hire and retain
older workers through age management measures, is still pending in Parliament. As
regards education, Luxembourg needs to address the strong impact of students'
socioeconomic background on their education outcomes. This is also important to
respond to the strong demand for highly specialised skills.
Additional Source: Luxembourg Times "Brussels urges Luxembourg to create jobs for older workers" (May 23, 2018)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Malta Rejects European Commission Recommendation To Increase Retirement Age

In response to the European Commission’s Country-Specific Recommendation (CSR’s) on Malta’s 2018 National Reform Programme, the Maltese Government has stated that it "is committed to retain free health care for its citizens and to continue to work towards a more sustainable pension system without changing the pensionable age." In the CSR, the European Community recommended that, in 2018, and 2019, Malta "{e]nsure the sustainability of the health care and the pension systems, including by increasing the statutory retirement age and by restricting early retirement." According to the Community:
The pension system faces the dual challenge of achieving sustainability while ensuring adequate retirement incomes. The long-term sustainability prospects for pension expenditure have improved, mainly thanks to a more positive assessment of Malta’s long-term growth potential. However, the measures introduced in the 2016 budget had only a limited impact on long-term sustainability of the pension system, which therefore remains a significant challenge.

Source: Government of Malta Press Release (May 23, 2018)

Additional source: Times of Malta "Investors may be deterred by shortcomings fighting corruption - EU" (May 23, 2018)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

United Kingdom: Prime Minister Includes Aging Workforce among "Grand Challenges" Facing UK

In a speech on science and modern industrial strategy at Jodrell Bank, Prime Minister May spoke about the aging workforce as one of the "grand challenges" facing the United Kingdom, each leading to a mission outlined as part of the government's "Industrial Strategy." As May said, "We know that our society here in the UK, and in other developed countries around the world, is getting older – creating new demands and opportunities," and "through our healthy ageing grand challenge, we will ensure that people can enjoy five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, whilst narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest."

Specifically, with respect to employment, May said: "Employers can help, by meeting the needs of people who have caring responsibilities and by doing more to support older people to contribute in the workplace--and enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of having a job if they want one." However, the policy paper issued at the same time as her speech provides no additional details of how the :mission will help support people to remain at work for longer."

In an article on her speech, Miriam Kenner reports:
Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, welcomed May’s “commitment to increasing people’s quality of life in older age”, and reducing the “scandalous gap in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest in our society”.

"As we live longer, we also need to work for longer,” she added. “All employers need to adopt age-inclusive practices.

“Too many older workers are leaving the labour market prematurely at great cost to them personally, as well as the state.”

Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development "Prime minister calls on employers to do more to support ageing workforce" (May 21, 2018)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Webcast Explores Workers' Comp and Managing Aging Workforce Risks

Marsh's Workers' Compensation Center of Excellence presented a webcast, in which panelists discussed a number of strategies organizations can adopt to help create healthier workforces, which can contribute to safer workplaces. During the webcast, the panel discussed:
  • How an industrial athlete approach can improve the conditioning of employees.
  • Physical changes that occur as workers age and their implications for workplace safety programs.
  • How to reduce injury rates for older workers.
According to a report on the webcast:
“I would argue that the same risk factors exist for employees regardless of age,” said David Damico, Atlanta-based vice president and senior ergonomics consultant with Marsh Risk Consulting. “That said, certain risk factors such as force, repetition (and) environmental concerns can become more prevalent as we age.”
In addition, Gary Anderberg, senior vice president–claims analytics, Gallagher Bassett Services Inc., is quoted as saying:
Older workers “know what they’re doing.” .... “They know what to avoid, where not to put their fingers and their toes, for example. The most dangerous time for any employee is generally the first year on the job when they’re still learning to work safely. But when they do suffer workplace injuries, for older employees, the medical indemnity costs can be higher, the cost of treatment can be higher in part because the comorbidities older workers tend to have can complicate recovery.”
Source: Marsh's Workers' Compensation Center of Excellence Webcast (May 16, 2018)

Additional Source: Business Insurance "Aging workforce has positive benefits, but injury risks loom" (May 17, 2018)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Czech Republic: IMF Consultation Report Suggests Raising Retirement Age Will Aid Economy

As part of its staff concluding statement of the 2018 Article IV Mission to the Czech Republic, the International Monetary Fund--in reporting that the Czech economy is growing strongly, but that the challenge is to sustain stable growth through the cycle and over the long term--suggests that raising the retirement age will ease economic pressures. Thus, the report states that:
  • Stresses on the pension system are manageable with increases in retirement age.
  • Employment has risen very strongly, to rates now above the EU average. But policies can encourage further increases in participation of underrepresented groups. Further increases in retirement age would mitigate the decline in the working age population.
  • The framework for life-long learning should be enhanced, given an aging workforce that will be retiring later in life.
Source: International Monetary Fund Mission Concluding Statement (May 16, 2018)