Thursday, April 28, 2005

GAO Issues Report on Redefining Retirement: Options for Older Americans

The federal Government Accountability Office has issued a report on "Redefining Retirement: Options for Older Americans" that discusses demographic and labor force trends and the economic and fiscal need to increase labor force participation among older workers. According to the report, "with the impending retirement of the baby boom generation, employers face the loss of many experienced workers and possibly skill gaps in certain occupations. This could have adverse effects on productivity and economic growth." In addition, although "some people can benefit by remaining in the labor force at later ages, others may be unable or unwilling to do so. For those who are able, there are many factors that influence their choices," including employer pension and Social Security eligibility rules, health status, the need for health insurance, personal preference, and the employment status of a spouse. "The availability of suitable
employment, including part-time work or flexible work arrangements, may
also affect the retirement and employment choices of older workers."

Source: Government Accountability Office GAO-05-620T Abstract (April 27, 2005)

Special Committee on Aging Holds Hearings on Retirement in 21st Century

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings on "Living Stronger, Earning Longer: Redefining Retirement In The 21st Century Workplace." According to the opening statement by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis):
Older workers have a lot to offer to businesses, their communities, and the country. Today, older Americans are healthier and more active, and many are willing and able to continue to make a contribution to the workplace and to our economy. We must incorporate this new mindset into our national culture, and develop policies that reflect this reality. Our seniors deserve it and our economic future may well depend on it.
Following an opening statement from Committee Chair Gordon Smith (R-Ore), the committe heard from Frank Robinson, Barbara Bovbjerg from the GAO, Doug Holbrook, AARP, and Valerie Paganeilli, Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Testimony given at the hearings is available both in print and as a Webcast

Source: Hearings on "Living Stronger, Earning Longer: Redefining Retirement In The 21st Century Workplace" Senate Special Committee on Aging (April 27, 2005)

Friday, April 08, 2005

AARP Releases Research on Interest in Phased Retirement

Nearly 40% of age 50+ workers would be interested in participating in phased retirement according to research by AARP Knowledge Management. According to S. Kathi Brown, the report-- "Attitudes of Individuals 50 and Older Toward Phased Retirement"--the opportunity to work a reduced schedule prior to full retirement while simultaneously collecting pension benefits has significant appeal. "Of workers who expressed interest in phased retirement, nearly four in five expect that the availability of such a plan would encourage them to work past their expected retirement age. Although respondents value the ability to work a reduced schedule while collecting some of their pension, they are wary of the possibility that phased retirement might reduce their final pension benefit."

Source: Research Report AARP Knowledge Management (March 2005)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Phased Retirement: Not All About Retaining Income and Reducing Stress

With some of the institutional barriers that once prevented phased retirement disappearing, Kaja Whitehouse, of The Wall Street Journal, finds that even though "older workers want alternatives to traditional retirement, and many employers want to find ways to keep them working," serious impediments remain. Most importantly, for employees, "reducing work hours not only will result in lower pay, but also could eliminate access to health care, reduce pension distributions and take away other important benefits." In addition, according to a 2003 Cornell University study, most workers who want phased retirement must first obtain permission from their bosses, and Robert Hutchens, the study's author, suggests that few employers will offer formal programs that benefit all older workers. "The future will be a continuation of what's going on currently. . . There's a desire to make sure that, if there's going to be a phased retirement, it's going to be for the right person and for the right job."

Source: "Older workers find happy medium" Baltimore Sun (April 4, 2005)

Impact of Gray Hair in Business Remains Conflicted

Even as the workforce continues to age, the answer to the question whether gray adds gravitas for those seeking to be hired or promoted or is a drawback that is best disguised depends on the circumstances. According Dave Carpener, writing for the Associated Press, experts suggest that Americans are ambivalent about gray hair in the workplace--with some companies eager to hire the gray-haired, while in some other areas there is extreme discrimination against older workers. There may also be sex-based differences, with women feeling less comfortable going gray in the workplace than men.

Source: "Gray Hair: Job Asset Or Liability?" CBS News (March 29, 2005)