Friday, December 26, 2008

Research: Why Hiring Rates of Older Workers Vary among Industries

The decision to remain in the workforce or fully retire is typically made between the ages of 55 and 64 and is predicated on many factors, including the availability of suitable jobs. In a paper published in Research on Aging, Geri Adler and Don Hilber explore the extent to which members of this age group are being hired by different industries and developed a model isolating what types of factors best determine relative hiring rates: those specific to an industry, a labor market, the older worker age group, or some combination thereof.

In their article ("Industry Hiring Patterns of Older Workers"), the authors estimate a low rate of new hiring for older workers aged 55 to 64 years, with low turnover and net outflows but substantial variability among industries. The findings additionally suggest that current national industry job growth and pay differentials among older new hires, existing older workers, and other new hires have the greatest bearing on how much these net flows vary by industry within states. Implications for older workers, their prospective employers, and policy makers are discussed.

Source: Research on Aging Abstract Vol 31, Issue 1 (2009)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kansas: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Kansas, the 27th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Kansas: 2004":
  • 14.4% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.5% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the real estate and rental and leasing industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, but no industry had 20% or more of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's manufacturing industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 18.0% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (December 23, 2008)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

West Virginia: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on West Virginia, the 26th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in West Virginia: 2004":
  • 13.8% of workers were 55 and older, while 2.7% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, other sevices (except public administration) had the highest proportion of workers in that age group, but no industry had 20% or more; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 18.8% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (December 17, 2008)

Survey: Employers Look for More Changes in Retiree Medical Benefits

The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists has released a survey about providing medical benefits for pre-65 and post-65 retirees that finds that employers are struggling to balance conflicting objectives in responding to organizational cost pressures, rapidly rising retiree contributions, administrative challenges, and the transition of older workers into retirement. "In the absence of a panacea, employers are examining ways in which current market offerings can be designed and deployed to help 'change the deal' with employees and retirees without undermining workforce management initiatives or inciting undue employee or retiree unrest."

Conducted with Towers Perrin, the survey--"Employers Are Poised To Take Action On Retiree Medical Plans"--reports that while the long-term trend toward employer exit is clear, with only 39% of employers offering retiree medical to new hires, over 70% of respondents still offer retiree medical to current retirees and some portion of their current active population. While only 7% of employers have ceased financial support for pre-65 coverage in the past two years, 42% have either changed or plan to change the cost-sharing deal between company and retiree. For post-65 retirees, 60% have capped their subsidy report plan costs in excess of the cap, almost 40% have or will recast cost-sharing terms with post-65 retirees, and almost 20% have ceased--or plan to cease--providing any post-65 financial support at all.

Source: International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists Press Release (December 18, 2008)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Australia: Government Acts To Encourage Small Businesses To Retain Older Workers

Australia's Department of Consumer and Employment Protection and the Small Business Development Corporation have engaged in a process to encourage Western Australian business to employ mature age workers as a way to improve performance and boost the bottom line. Through publication of "Don’t rule out mature age workers," will help small employers struggling to compete with large enterprises for skilled labor.

See also the Department of Commerce site Mature age employment for other information for employers and employees.

Source: Department of Consumer Media Statement (December 16, 2008)

United Kingdom: Government Reports on Flexible Retirement, Seeks More Comments

The United Kingdom's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has released the results of its consultation on flexible retirement and, in turn, has announced a new consultation to explore this issue further. According to DWP, the "most obvious conclusion from this exercise" is that the age discrimination regulations "continue to cause some unease and uncertainty for employers, trustees, professional advisers, members and their representatives alike."

According to DWP, the age rules were intended to combat the worst aspects of discrimination, and "it would be counterproductive to introduce a regulatory regime that subverted the Government’s wider policy of ensuring that older people have opportunities to carry on working and earning towards retirement." Accordingly, DWP wants to promote fairness, not set impossible standards. Thus, DWP now seeks "to consult on alternative options for a further exemption in respect of flexible retirement arrangements to mitigate any disincentive effect." Specifically, DWP is asking, among other things:
Question 1: The definition of ‘flexible retirement’ excludes members continuing in the same grade with the same hours, but who take all or part of their age-related benefits. Do you (or employers or schemes you advise) enable workers to continue to work after NPA in the same grade and with the same hours whilst taking their age related benefits? If so, does the practice cause significant problems for the scheme and are you (or any of the employers or schemes you advise) considering withdrawing the policy? If not, please explain why the practice has not been adopted.

Question 4: We welcome further evidence to determine the extent to which the Age Regulations deter employers from offering flexible retirement arrangements. Do you (or the employers or schemes you advise) currently provide flexible retirement arrangements to staff? If so, are you (or the employers or schemes you advise) considering withdrawing or limiting those arrangements? Why? If you (or the employers or schemes you advise) do not offer flexible retirement arrangements, what is the reason for this? Would an exemption from the Age Regulations lead you (or the employers or schemes you advise) to change your current practice?
Sources: Department for Work and Pensions "Flexible Retirement and Pension Provision" (December 16, 2008); Professional Pensions "DWP launches age discrimination consultation" (December 17, 2008)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

France: Website for Employers and Employees to Manage Second Half of Careers

In order to help with the retention of employees in the second part of their careers--a major economic and social priority anticipated by employers and employees, Opcalia has launched Fifti, a website for professional and public use to change the social perceptions and changing attitudes of managers and employees as France seeks to raise the number of employees over 55 to 50% by 2010.

Fifti aims to help employees and employers to understand and anticipate the issue of age in the company. By combining the needs and expectations, raising fears and misconceptions, Fifti can open dialogue to understand different parts of the second careers and to implement new practices. Among other things, the website will address skills, training, preparation for retirement, motivation, nutrition, and physical activity of older workers.

Source: Opcalia Press Release (December 12, 2008)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Idaho: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Idaho, the 25th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Idaho: 2004":
  • 12.9% of workers were 55 and older, while 2.7% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the utilities industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 22.0% or more of its workers in that age group, followed by transportation and warehousing, with 21.2% in that age group; and
  • the state's retail trade industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 15.0% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (December 10, 2008)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Research: Effect of Older Worker Unemployment Protection on Employment

Faced with low employment rates for older workers, most OECD countries
have experimented with specific older worker employment protection in the
form of taxes on firing and subsidies on hiring. A paper issued by the Institute for the Study of Labor examines the age-related design of firing taxes by extending the theory of job creation and job destruction to account for a finite working life-time.

Arnaud Chéron, Jean-Olivier Hairault, and François Langot, the authors of "Age-Dependent Employment Protection," argue that the potential employment gains related to employment protection are high for older workers, but higher firing taxes for these workers increase job destruction rates for the younger generations. On the other hand, age-decreasing firing taxes can lead to lower job destruction rates at all ages. Furthermore, because firings of older (younger) workers exert a negative (positive) externality on the matching process, the authors find that the first best age-dynamic of firing taxes and hiring subsidies is typically hump-shaped. Taking into account distortions related to unemployment benefits and bargaining power shows the robustness of this result, in contradiction with the existing policies in most OECD countries.

Source: Institute for the Study of Labor Abstract (November 2008)

Monday, December 01, 2008

North Dakota: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on North Dakota, the 24th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in North Dakota: 2004":
  • 13.6% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.3% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the real estate and rental and leasing industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 22.0% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 21.6% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (November 25, 2008)

Research Study Pushes for Cultural Changes To Increase Workplace Flexibility for Older Workers

An AARP Public Policy Institute Insight on the Issues report focuses on the availability of and barriers to flexible work options, with a particular focus on older workers and phased retirement. According to the Making Work More Flexible: Opportunities and Evidence, prepared by Melissa A. Hardy of The Pennsylvania State University, many employers remain skeptical of flexible work options, despite growing evidence that they can benefit both employers and employees. Among other things, these employers fear that labor costs, output, or administrative efficiency will be unfavorably affected.

Among other things, the report looks at phased retirement, finding that while older workers express considerable interest in scaling back their work hours prior to full retirement, and many analysts and older worker advocates contend that such work options could prolong working life, relatively few workers have access to formal phased retirement options.

Source: AARP Research Report (November 2008)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Research: Relationship of Age and Unemployment

The Institute for the Study of Labor has published a paper seeking "to gain insights on the relationship between growth and unemployment, when considering heterogeneous agents in terms of age." According to the authors (François Langot and Eva Moreno-Galbis) of "Does the Growth Process Discriminate against Older Workers?":
under the assumption of homogeneous productivity among workers, firms tend to fire older workers more often than young ones, when deciding whether to update or not a technology: there is an equilibrium where the creative destruction effect dominates over the capitalization effect for old workers, whereas the capitalization effect dominates for young workers. This discrimination against older workers can be moderated when we introduce heterogeneity (in terms of productivity) among workers.
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Paper 3841 Abstract (November 2008)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Remote Service as Means of Bridging Knowledge Gap in Manufacturing Industries Beset by Aging Workforces

One tool being put forward to assist manufacturers faced with rapidly aging workforces, approaching retirement age, and insufficient younger, skilled workers to replace them is to use technology to bridge knowledge gaps. Thus, in an article in Industry Week, Brian Anderson, Vice President of Marketing, Axeda, advocates the use of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to provide remote service of equipment.

His advice follows up on research published in Manufacturing Insights, "The Aging Workforce--Impact and Opportunity" (April 2008), demonstrating that the gap between retiring workers and younger workers is characterized as a knowledge deficit and recommending technologies that can help bridge the divide, and initiate seamless workforce transition.

Anderson argues that with a remote service solution in place, "equipment up-time is increased, resulting in fewer field service visits to customers. This reduces personnel needs, and the need to hire new workers as older workers retire." It also helps centralize workforce skills, captures knowledge, and optimizes the workforce.

Source: Industry Week "The Aging Workforce Challenge: How Remote Service Can Help Product Manufacturers" (November 19, 2008)

New Zealand: Mercer 2012 Report Suggests Economic Downturn Won't Reduce Need for Older Workers

Mercer has issued as report concluding that the current global economic crisis will give New Zealand employers only limited relief from the squeeze of an ageing workforce, skills shortage, and continuing brain drain. According to the report--Workplace 2012 New Zealand, by 2012, one in five workers will be aged 55 or older and employers will have to shift their focus from young to old to maintain a viable workforce between now and then.

The report found that, among other things, the percentage of workers aged 55 and over will increase from 18% to 21% and that while thehe participation rate of workers aged 20-44 will decrease, the participation rate of workers aged 55-59 will increase from 79.6% to 82.4% and the participation rate of workers aged 60-64 will increase from 67.1% to 75%.
“The fact that the workforce is ageing is not new, the twin issues of the skills shortage and the pending wave of retiring Baby Boomers seems to have been debated perennially,” said [Mercer’s Business Leader in New Zealand, Mr Bernie O’Brien].

“But this research clarifies and cements the fact that one of the biggest business risks in New Zealand in the immediate future is not just economic factors – it is the significant demographic shifts occurring that will threaten the sustainability of many New Zealand businesses.

“New Zealanders aged 55 and older are, and will continue to be, the answer to the current skills shortage - not Gen Y.

“This is not about changing a few HR policies. There needs to be a shift in the mindset of how, and for how long, New Zealanders work,” he said.
Source: Mercer Press Release (November 27, 2008)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Case Study: How One U.K. Business Maximizes Use of Older Workers

B&Q, one of the founders of the Employers Forum for Age in the United Kingdom, has become a case study for many ways in which an employer can utilize older workers for both the employees' and company's benefit. Policies on employee engagement, work-life balance, equal opportunities and internal communications have helped the retailer, as have experiments, such as opening a store staffed entirely by those 50 and older. In the latter case, a study showed that that store out-performed others in terms of profits, employee turnover, absenteeism, and inventory shrinkage.

Sources: theMatureMarket.com PRess Release (November 21, 2008); Human Resource Management International Digest "Employee engagement “does it” for B&Q: Diversity at the heart of business success" Vol. 16, Issue 7 (2008)

Friday, November 21, 2008

European Parliament Report on Social Security Addresses Workplace Issues

Concerned that the increasing ageing population will affect social security systems, members of the European Parliament, in an own-initiative report, expressed their preoccupation with maintaining the core of European social models and, among other thngs, recommend encouraging higher employment rates.

According to the summary of the non-legislative resolution "Future of social security systems and pensions: their financing and the trend towards individualisation", the Parliament stresses the need to enable flexible retirement on a voluntary basis and suggests that it will necessary to discuss at national level raising the legal retirement age and encouraging workers to remain in employment on a voluntary basis, as long as conditions permit.

Source: European Parliament Press Release (November 20, 2008)

European Commission Issues Second Demographic Report on Aging Societies

The European Commission has issued its second demographic report to provides the facts and figures that are needed to assess where member states stand in responding to the challenges of demographic change. The 2008 report--"Demography Report 2008: Meeting Social Needs in an Ageing Society"--focuses on the aging society and changing family and household patterns in the EU. Among other issues addressed in the report are: What about the working population? Are people working longer? How are older people involved in society, besides work?

With respect to the baby boom generation and work, the report finds that the growth of the working-age (20-59) population is slowing down fast and will stop altogether in about 6 years; from then on, this segment of the population will be shrinking by 1 to 1.5 million people each year. While employment rates at age 60 are ten percentage points higher than in 2000, but there is still much room for improvement.
Employment after the age of 65, the typical statutory retirement age in many Member States, is very rare: only about 13% of men aged 65-69 years and 7% of women are still in employment. Part-time working could be a good way of achieving a gradual transition from work to retirement, but only about 11% of men aged 55-64 work part time and 38% of women.
Other findings include:
  • There are major differences in the social activities of older workers across countries--more so than across socioeconomic groups in a given country.
  • Rapid ageing requires adequate policy responses: opportunities to stay active on the labour
    market and in society; access to goods and services that preserve older people's autonomy; solidarity with the dependent and protection of their dignity.
  • Member States can raise labour force participation, thus creating a better balance between the active and the retired.
  • In about ten years, the potential for
    further employment growth will be exhausted; productivity will become the main
    engine of growth.
Source: European Commission News Release (November 21, 2008)

Missouri: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Missouri, the 23rd state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Missouri: 2004":
  • 14.2% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.2% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the real estate and rental and leasing industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, but no industry had 20% or more of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's retail trade industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 15.6% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (November 20, 2008)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Europe: Research Suggests that Varying Health Conditions across Europe Will Impede Increasing Older Worker Participation Rates

Investigators at Leicster University have published a paper in Lancet finding that substantial inequalities in ife expectancies and healthy life years at 50 years exist within EU countries. Thus, without major improvements in population health, the target of increasing participation of older people into the labor force will be difficult to meet in all 25 EU countries.

Healthy life years varied more than life expectancy, with a range for men from 9.1 years in Estonia to 23.6 years in Denmark and for women from 10.4 years in Estonia to 24.1 years in Denmark. According to a BBC report on the study:
Lead researcher Professor Carol Jagger, from Leicester University, said: "What we have here, for the very first time, is data we can really compare.

"And it really questions whether the countries with the longest life expectancies are the healthiest.

"In the case of the UK, we are looking pretty average, but slightly better than our life expectancy figures suggest."

She said that the figures might be useful to governments who are trying to work out the number of older people able to remain working, or who will need health care.
Sources: Lancet "Inequalities in healthy life years in the 25 countries of the European Union in 2005: a cross-national meta-regression analysis" (November 17, 2008); BBC News "Periods of healthy old age 'vary'" (November 17, 2008)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

McKinsey Study Suggests Boomers Have To Keep Working for Both Their Good and for Good of Global Economy

According to a new study from the McKinsey Global Institute, the only realistic way to prevent aging boomers from experiencing a significant decline in their living standards and becoming a multidecade drag on U.S. and world economic growth is for boomers to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age. This, in turn, will require important changes in public policy, business practices, and personal behavior.

The authors--Eric D. Beinhocker, Diana Farrell, and Ezra Greenberg--found that two-thirds of the oldest boomers are financially unprepared for retirement, and many are not even aware of their predicament, and that US labor force participation rates are declining: "Without an unexpected burst of productivity growth or a significant upsurge in investment per worker, the aging boomers’ reduced levels of working and spending will slow the real growth of the US GDP from an average of 3.2 percent a year since 1965 to about 2.4 percent over the next three decades."

While many boomers do want to continue working, a number of institutional and legal barriers-—health care costs, labor laws, pension regulations, and corporate attitudes toward older workers—-could prevent them from prolonging their careers. Thus, the government must reallocate health insurance costs for older workers, businesses and boomers must agree on more flexible work arrangements, policy makers must reform private pensions, and Social Security must remove disincentives to remaining in the workforce.

Source: McKinsey Quarterly "Why baby boomers will need to work longer " (November 2008)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Canada: Expert Panel Members Ask Government To Act on Recommendations

Although Canada established an expert panel on helping older workers in 2007, when the final report was presented in 2008, it was "quietly released by then-Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Monte Solberg in late July, months after it was submitted to him." Now, the former head of the panel and a leading member are calling on the government to focus on the panels recommendations with respect to employment insurance reforms.

According to Erminie Cohen, the panel's chair, the "thinking of the panel may be ahead of its time but our ideas were certainly an antidote to the economic trouble we're entering." Panel member Françoise Bertrand, president of the federation of chambers of commerce in Quebec, argued that improving the extent to which older workers participate in the workforce is as important to the economy as immigration and helping families reconcile the work-life balance.

Among other things, the panel recommended to let laid-off, long-time workers qualify for employment insurance without having to live off their severance cheques first and to let these laid-off, long-time workers receive benefits for longer than normal.

Sources: Telegraph Journal "Retired senator joins call for EI reforms" (November 13, 2008); Times & Transcript "Ottawa overlooking seniors, says panel member" (November 14, 2008)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

United Kingdom: Study Focuses on How To Encourage Labor Market Activity Among 60-64 Year Olds

Researchers have published the results of a study (done on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (Extending Working Life Division)) on how to best encourage the 60-64 age-group to take up or remain in work. According to the report--"Encouraging labour market activity among 60-64 year olds", flexible working, particularly part-time and short-term contracts, were favored among those research participants who wanted to work longer.

For those not looking to work longer, most typically felt that they had worked for long enough, althouth women were much more likely to mention social reasons for continuing to work, whereas the men were more inclined to feel that they had already "done their bit."

Among the conclusions of the researchers from the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent in conjunction with The University of Edinburgh Business School, was that "Extending working life for those able and willing to work for longer requires action on a number of different fronts and by a range of stakeholders." In particular, employers "will have a pivotal role in providing and sustaining employment for older workers in a range of different circumstances and individuals themselves need to improve their understanding of, and ability to, respond to the opportunities and disadvantages that they experience as older workers."

Sources: University of Kent News Release (November 11, 2008); Department of Work and Pensions Abstract (November 11, 2008)

Virginia: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Virginia, the 22nd state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Virginia: 2004":
  • 14.2% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.5% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 20.8% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's retail trade industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 14.6% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (November 10, 2008)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Minnesota: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Minnesota, the 21st state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Minnesota: 2004":
  • 13.5% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.0% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the transportation and warehousing industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, but no individual sectors employed more than 20% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 15.4% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (November 6, 2008)

Friday, October 31, 2008

United Kingdom: Survey Suggests Older Workers May Bear Brunt of Redundancies

According to the CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook "Redundancy Special," a survey of 721 UK employers suggests that older workers are set to bear the brunt of redundancies in the year ahead. Specifically, 26% of employers have contingency plans to make new or further redundancies in the next twelve months in addition to those already planned, and almost one in five employers say that they are going to enforce the Government’s retirement age policy--which allows UK organizations to make workers over 65 redundant without having to provide a business reason for doing so--more vigorously.

Source: CIPD Press Release (October 31, 2008)

Pennsylvania: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Pennsylvania, the 20th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Pennsylvania: 2004":
  • 16.0% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.6% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 21.9% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's manufacturing industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 16.7% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (October 30, 2008)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Survey: Economic Environment Leading to Delayed Retirements in United States

A survey of retirement plan sponsors conducted by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans finds that plan participants appear to be responding to the current economic and financial crisis by delaying retirement, saving less, and re-aligning their retirement investments. Specifically, 46% of plan sponsors stated their employees and plan participants are considering delayed retirement, and 38% noted that their employees are concerned about not saving enough for retirement.

In addition to reporting a jump in the number of plan participants considering delaying retirement, the report "Plan Sponsors and Participants: Partners in Times of Crisis" finds that a quarter of plan sponsors citing an increase in the actual number of eligible workers postponing retirement. With respect to investments, nearly 30% of respondents report that defined contribution plan participants have decreased their overall retirement plan contributions and 34% believe plan participants have reduced their exposure to equities in favor of less risky investment alternatives.

Source: International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Press Release (October 29, 2008)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

United Kingdom: Survey Shows Continued Age Discrimination Affecting Older Workers

According to a survey conducted by the Age and Employment Network (TAEN), only 10% of surveyed jobseekers in the United Kingdom aged 50 and over could say they had never experienced age discrimination when looking for work. In addition, just 13% thought the UK age discrimination legislation introduced in October 2006 had helped older people find work.

TAEN's "Survey of Jobseekers Aged 50+" also surveyed employer perceptions. While 67% of jobseekers felt they had the right skills for today’s labour market, 63% believed they were seen as too old by employers and 42% said they were seen as too experienced or over-qualified.

Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN , commented:
We began gathering responses to our survey in January 2008, before the labour market slowdown and the crisis in financial markets started to bite. Our data represents responses from older jobseekers in a context when personal financial worries were probably less grave. We cannot but be concerned that the over-50s are going to face even greater barriers as the economy deteriorates.
Source: The Age and Employment Network Press Release (October 27, 2008)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AARP Study Reports Most Older Works Intend To Work into "Retirement" Years

An AARP survey has found that 70 percent of mature workers plan to work into what they view as their retirement years. Updating a 2002 survey, "Staying Ahead of the Curve 2007: The AARP Work and Career Study" reports that 27% of the 45-75 year olds questioned cited a need for money as the reason for continuing to work, while 21% attributed their decision to work in retirement to the fact that they enjoy working.

The study also reported that 51% of those interviewed said they plan to work part-time in retirement, while 29% do not plan to work. Another 11% plan to start their own business or work for themselves, while 6% plan to work full-time.

Included in the final report is a "Blueprint For Change" section that focuses on creative policies utilized by progressive employers. Among other things, these best practices include flexible schedules and work arrangements, cCompetitive health and other benefits, restructuring jobs or workplaces to accommodate employees’ unique needs later in life, recharging late-career workers with updated training, and utilizing knowledge retention strategies.

Source: AARP Press Release (October 20, 2008)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Canada: Conference Board Report Suggests Employers Not Making Efforts To Retain Mature Workers

The Conference Board of Canada has released a research report suggesting that while Canadian employers are worried about a rapidly aging workforce, they are not putting their money--or their human resources policies--into innovative ways to retain them. According to "Harnessing the Power: Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining Mature Workers," authored by Karla Thorpe, most "organizations have not yet targeted specific human resources programs and policies to their mature workers. This is limiting their ability to attract, retain, and engage this increasingly important segment." Specifically, only 11% actively try to recruit mature workers with measures such as rehiring former employees and offering flexible hours or phased retirement.

On the hiring side, however, the Conference Board found employers to be a lot more active with regard to enticing mature workers back into the workforce. For organiazations that specifically recruit older workers, 73% report success in hiring them; for organizations taking a more general approach, only 23% report success attracting mature workers.

The report concludes that employers will need to invest in a better understanding of the motivations, needs, and preferences of this cohort in order to ensure organizational success as the post–war baby boom ages. It also singled out some employers that have responded to an aging workforce with innovative solutions.

Sources: Conference Board Executive Summary (October 2008); Canwest News Service "Mature workers need wooing: Conference Board" (October 17, 2008)

Survey: Older Workers Less Inclined To Impress Boss To Ensure Job Security

A recent Ranstad USA survey suggests that the turbulent economy may be forging stronger ties as employees look to shore up their job security, but that older employees are less inclined to flexibility. While 72% of employees would do something to impress their boss, this declines to 62% for workers 55 and older. Similar differences appear for each of the kind of thing than an employee might be willing to do to create more job security:
  • take on additional work or responsibilities: 57% overall, 53% mature employees;
  • work overtime to create more job security: 47% of all employees, 36% mature employees;
  • stay late/come in early to show additional face time: 40% all employees, 22% mature employees;
  • social with boss outside of office: 15% all employees, 4% mature employees;
  • do personal favors, such as run errands: 11% all employees, 8% mature employees.
Overall, the survey finds that 77% of employees said they positively relate to their boss and 64% characterize their bosses in complimentary terms. Ranstad USA suggests that this "level of favorability may be a direct result of companies’ recent focus on creating better workplace environments and designing more employee-centric programs and tools."
"Employees’ professional development and morale should always be a priority for employers, and especially in an economic slowdown when employees may feel additional burdens," said Eric Buntin, managing director, marketing and operations for Randstad USA. "A healthy employee-employer relationship based on mutual respect greatly contributes to an overall positive workplace attitude. Employers who connect with their employees create an environment where workers are more engaged in their jobs and, thus, more productive. This can positively impact the bottom line."
Source: Ranstad USA Press Release (October 20, 2008)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Survey: Nonprofit Employers See Appeal in Hiring Encore Workers

According to a survey published by MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, 50% of nonprofit employers see encore workers--employees who have finished their midlife careers--as highly appealing, with an additional 39% finding them moderately appealing. In addition, the survey finds that nonprofits with experience hiring late-career or recently retired workers are the most positive (53% versus 40%) about hiring more.

Other findings reported in "Tapping Encore Talent: A MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Survey of Nonprofit Employers" include: (1) 69% of nonprofit employers rate the valuable experience encore workers bring to the job as a significant benefit, and 67% say the same about encore workers’ commitment and reliability; and (2) 25% of the employers expressed "serious concerns" that encore workers could demand higher salaries, 23% that workers would be reluctant to learn new technology, 20% that they would lack technical/professional skills, adn 19% that they could have higher insurance/benefit costs.

In addition to detailing the survey results, the report includes an essay and several commentaries on the use of boomers in second careers by nonprofit employers.

Source: Civic Ventures News Release (October 16, 2008)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Research Study Evaluates Government Programs in United States Helping Older Workers Obtain New Skills

A report by Heldrich Center researchers Carl Van Horn, Ph.D. and Maria Heidkamp reviews the federal government resources available to assist older unemployed job seekers and highlights examples of initiatives undertaken by states, community colleges, nonprofits and community-based organizations, and the private sector to help older workers find another job.

The study, also published as an issue brief by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work--"Older and Out of Work--Employer, Government and Nonprofit Assistance"--follows up on their earlier work. Among their conclusions is that only a small percentage of older unemployed workers will receive post-layoff assistance from their former employer and that finding that next job is likely to be difficult and time consuming--considerably more so than for younger job seekers—-and may require them to prepare for a new
career in a new industry.

While some primarily large employers do provide employees sufficient advance notice of a layoff and access to a range of outplacement and other services, small and mid-sized employers may not have the resources to offer post-layoff benefits. "They may need to seek opportunities to partner with government and nonprofit agencies in order to provide assistance to their older workers targeted for layoff. These opportunities may include participating in regional talent and skills alliances and sector strategies."

Source: John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Home Page (October 16, 2008)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Washington: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Washington, the 19th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Washington: 2004":
  • 13.2% of workers were 55 and older, while 2.6% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the utilities industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 23.3% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 15.3% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (October 15, 2008)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tennessee: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Tennessee, the 18th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Tennessee: 2004":
  • 14.1% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.0% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the utilities industry and the mining industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, both having 20.4% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's manufacturing industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 20.7% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (October 14, 2008)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cyprus: Government Launches Campaign To Encourage Retaining Older Workers

Cyprus Labour Minister Soteroulla Charalambous, in launching the ministry’s "Grey Hair, Experienced Hands" campaign argues that older workers do not only have the right to employment but are also a fountain of knowledge and experience that can and should be utilised by businesses and organizations. “We want to put out the message that employment is for all,” she said.

According to press reports, the campaign campaign is in line with the EU’s Lisbon Strategy and "seeks to encourage the employment of older workers and lifelong learning, to create more and better quality job positions that ensure workers’ health and safety, better remuneration, more flexibility at work to allow better work-life balance, and to promote measures that allow older workers access to an increasingly competitive and changing job market."

While Cyprus far, Cyprus compares favourably in the 55-64 age bracket with an unemployment rate of just 3.1% as opposed to the EU-27’s 5.6%, like the rest of Europe, Cyprus faces a different labor market with an increasing ageing population, new technology and increased competition. In order to keep older workers active for longer, the ministry will, among other things, look improving the quality of employment for older workers, target workers and employers to spread the message that the 55-64 age bracket was a social group that was older and experienced and could enrich the economy, their own lives and businesses, and tackle unfair dismissal, discrimination, and stereotypes about older workers.

Source: Cyprus Mail "Campaign aims to battle ageism at work " (October 12, 2008)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sun Life Creates Unretirement Index: Measures Attitudes and Expectations towards Iissues Influencing Retirement

Sun Life Financial, Inc., had released its Unretirement Index to track the changing attitudes and expectations American workers have regarding retirement. It plans to release the Index multiple times each year and use it to gauge how economic, financial and societal forces are affecting working Americans, and forecast their future retirement decisions.

According to its initial release, 48% of the U.S. workforce believes it will still be working at the traditional retirement age of 67, and four of the five top reasons given were not financial in nature. Thus, for example, the most cited reason for continuing to work (83%) was "to stay mentally engaged."
"As our workforce evolves and attitudes are impacted by economic conditions and world events, the nature of retirement in America evolves as well," said Bob Salipante, President, Sun Life Financial U.S. "Traditional views on retirement are quickly evolving and more Americans are choosing to be unretired. This Index for the first time shows how changes in the economy, politics, healthcare and lifestyle are all critical factors in more and more Americans choosing to continue working during traditional retirement years."
Source: Sun Life Financial News Release (October 1, 2008)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Canada: Study Looks at Employer Readiness for Boomer Retirements

A survey conducted by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in partnership with Life's Next Steps, reports that, while many Canadian employers face retirement levels of 20% or more over the next five years, most admit that they are not fully prepared to deal with this important issue. Specifically, HRPA's "Are Canadian Firms Prepared for the Boomer Exodus from the Workforce?" reports that only 14% of organizations feel fully prepared for "the coming talent shortage," while 23% admit to being "poorly prepared" and 60% say they are only "somewhat prepared".
"Many boomers obviously want to continue working in some way, to remain active and engaged or due to financial concerns," said [Suzanne Armstrong, president of Life's Next Steps.] "HR has an opportunity right now to take the lead in creating programs that help boomers plan for a different kind of retirement, and that encourage good employees to stay involved in the workforce in ways that are practical and flexible. It can be a win-win for employees and organizations. But employers need to act now to create initiatives and incentives aimed at keeping some of these excellent employees on the job in some way."
Source: Human Resources Professionals Association News Release (October 8, 2008)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Survey: Older Workers Concerned about Social Security and Medicare Promises

According to Watson Wyatt, many workers 50-64, particularly those without employer-sponsored retirement plans, retiree medical plans or other financial resources, do not expect to receive their full Social Security or Medicare payments after they retire. Specifically, 61% of older workers are not confident of receiving unreduced Medicare benefits, and 52% are not confident of receiving unreduced Social Security benefits.

Based on an analysis of a 2007 Watson Wyatt survey of 5,000 older employees, "Social Security, Medicare and Americans’ Confidence in Their Retirement Future" also suggests that confidence in these government programs is partly associated with how secure workers are in their own financial resources for retirement.
"Retirement income has traditionally been likened to a three-legged stool consisting of government plans, employer plans and personal savings," said Mark Warshawsky, director of retirement research at Watson Wyatt. "With the future of Medicare and Social Security uncertain, it is critical for employers and their employees to adequately prepare for future retirement needs."
Source: Watson Wyatt Press Release (October 2, 2008)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Zealand: Extending Vocational Rehabilitation to Workers Over 65

New Zealand's Minister of Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) announced that injured New Zealanders who are over 65 and want to return to the workforce will have better access to vocational rehabilitation under a law change that became effective October 1, 2008. According to Street, "People over 65 who are working are entitled to weekly compensation for up to two years if they are injured. Over 65s are eligible for both compensation and superannuation for the first year, but have to elect one or the other for the second year."

Before the change, only over 65's already receiving weekly compensation were entitled to vocational rehabilitation or return to work assistance, and only for up to two years. Under the new law, "they will also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation if they are on superannuation and that period of entitlement will extend to three years and beyond if ACC determines it will help them back into the workforce."

Source: Accident Compensation Corporation Press Release (October 1, 2008)

World Ecnomic Forum Develops Scenarios To Help Aging Societies Deal with Pensions and Healthcare

The World Economic Forum has issued a report arguing that the unprecedent rate of aging in the world is undermining the financial sustainability of traditional pension systems and healthcare and that urgent action is required in many countries. Through the use of scenario thinking, "The Future of Pensions and Healthcare in a Rapidly Ageing World-–Scenarios to 2030" aims to "bring the long-term consequences of ageing societies closer to the realities facing governments, businesses and NGOs today, and help everyone prepare for the challenges and opportunities that they imply."

In particular, the Forum argues that indicates that new forms of collaboration between key stakeholders--individuals, financial institutions, healthcare providers, employers and governments--will be critical to finance the ongoing well-being of current and future generations in a sustainable manner.

Source: World Economic Forum Press Release (September 23, 2008)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Commentary: Aging Workforce Presents Longterm Retirement Planning Opportunities for Employers and Employees

Ian Martin, UK Head of Retirement Businesses, HSBC Insurance, suggests that "Ageing populations are an opportunity for us all--be it increased longevity for individuals or access to mature, skilled workers for employers." However, this opportunity also comes with responsibilities: "for individuals to prepare and for employers to understand the value of older workers and ensure the working environment helps older workers to continue to flourish."

Martin's comments drew on an HSBC Insurance global report--"The Future of Retirement: Investing in Later Life"--which identified an ill-prepared generation with high expectations for their retirement but, perhaps unwittingly, unprepared for the cost implications for funding their increased longevity and desired retirement lifestyle.

Source: Director of Finance Online "Long term retirement planning " (September 26, 2008)

New Mexico: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on New Mexico, the 17th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in New Mexico: 2004":
  • 14.1% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.2% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 22.0% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 16.9% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (September 29, 2008)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

AARP Announces 2008 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Cornell University heads the list of AARP's 2008 best employers for workers over 50. According to AARP CEO Bill Novelli, a "diverse group of corporations and not-for-profits are increasingly recognizing the importance of innovative policies as employers seek to retain and recruit experienced workers." In particular, Novelli pointed out that, in the face of rising health care costs, many of the top 50 employers are adopting practices such as health screenings and other wellness programs that will pay off for both the employee and the employer.

With respect to Cornell, the University offers a variety of health-related programs through the year, including health screenings in office buildings on campus, and computerized and in-person health counseling for those enrolled in its Health Program for Healthy Living. Among other things, its wellness program provides access to five fitness centers on campus, an ice skating rink and several swimming pools, along with group fitness and nutrition classes. Other policies include flexible arrangements such as flextime, compressed work weeks and telecommuting; a formal phased retirement program for faculty; a robust retiree health and prescription drug plan heavily subsidized by the university; temporary work assignments for non-faculty retirees; paid time off for care giving, and access for retirees to continued university education at no charge.

In announcing the list of the top 50 employers, AARP also issued a compilation of employer strategies for addressing the issues of an aging workforce. AARP has grouped these best practices exhibited by one or more of its top 50 employers according to recruiting, training, phased retirement, retiree relations, and caregiving programs.

In addition, AARP has identified its top 10 international innovative employers.

Source: AARP Press Release (September 23, 2008)

Advocate General Opinion Supports U.K.'s Mandatory Retirement Law at European Court of Justice

Jan Marzak, the Advocate-General for the European Court of Justice, has issued an opinion recommending that the Court uphold the United Kingdom's law taht bans discrimination on the ground of age but excludes pensioners, who can be dismissed at 65 without redundancy payments, or at the employer's mandatory retirement age if it is above 65. According to Marzak:
A rule such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which permits employers to dismiss employees aged 65 or over if the reason for dismissal is retirement, can in principle be justified under Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78 if that rule is objectively and reasonably justified in the context of national law by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market and it is not apparent that the means put in place to achieve that aim of public interest are inappropriate and unnecessary for the purpose.
According to Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, one of whose member organizations--Heyday--brought the case to set aside the law, "This is a set back, but it is not a disaster." While Age Concern would have preferred to have the Advocate General’s support, his "opinion confirms that the EU Directive requires age discrimination to be justified. It’s now up to the UK government to prove to the High Court that their social and employment policies are important enough to justify kicking people out of work at 65."

Sources: The Times "Setback in battle against compulsory retirement age" (September 24, 2008); Personnel Today "Heyday age discrimination ruling: what the employment lawyers and experts say" (September 23, 2008); Age Concern Press Release (September 23, 2008); Employers Forum on Age Press Release (September 23, 2008)

Oregon: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Oregon, the 16th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Oregon: 2004":
  • 14.9% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.1% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the mining industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 23.2% of its workers in that age group, with the real estate and rental and leasing industry following with 21.1% and the utilities industry with 20.7%; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 14.9% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (September 23, 2008)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Research: Scope and Impact of Unemployment on Older Americans

A report by Heldrich Center researchers Carl Van Horn, Ph.D. and Maria Heidkamp looking at unemployed older workers finds that older unemployed workers face more significant challenges than their younger jobseeking counterparts. In particular, older unemployed workers take longer to find new jobs, and when they do, it is often in a different occupation, a different industry, and at much lower earnings than in their previous job.

Published as an issue brief by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work, "Older and Out of Work – Trends in Older Worker Displacement" reports that a growing proportion of older adults do not have the option of retiring from work, due in part to rising prices and lack of sufficient savings. Thus, Heidkamp says: "It is time to ask how employment and training programs can be more effective in bringing older unemployed workers back into workplaces where their talents are still needed and valued."
With talent shortages approaching as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, employers need to proactively ensure that they provide their older workers with a supportive work environment sensitive to their needs. For older workers, this often means providing greater workplace flexibility and benefits packages.
Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work Issue Brief No. 16 (September 2008)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Research: Is Continued Work Linked to State Economics or Individual Characteristics?

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has released a research report investigating some stark differences in labor force participation rates of men aged 55-64 in different states--for example, West Virginia has a participation rate below 60%, while South Dakota has a participation rate of nearly 90%. The study ("Do State Economics or Individual Characteristics Determine Whether Older Men Work? "), authored by Alicia H. Munnell, Mauricio Soto, Robert K. Triest, and Natalia A. Zhivan, concludes that while differences in the nature of state economies, or the characteristics of their employers, affect the labor force participation rates of older workers, individuals characteristics are far more important in terms of extending working careers.

Factors that vary among states that affect participation rates include a pseudo replacement rate, the unemployment rate, the percent of men self-employed, percent of men in manufacturing, percent of men aged 55-64 with a college degree, and the ratio of men aged 55-64 to the total population. Individual factors that can affect participation were grouped into three categories: demographics (age, college, nonwhite, fair/poor health, and married), characteristics of the spouse (working, fair/poor health, and earnings), and respondent’s wealth (owns a home and financial assets).
As expected, older individuals and individuals in fair/poor health are less likely to be working than their counterparts. Having greater financial wealth is associated with a low probability of working. Having a college degree, having a working spouse or spouse in poor/fair health, and being a homeowner are associated with a higher probability of being employed. While having a high-earning spouse is associated with a lower probability of working relative to having a low-earning spouse, overall married men are more likely to be working than singles.
Accordingly, the authors conclude that the best way for policymakers to help struggling states is to develop policies that target individuals with particular characteristics rather than states themselves.

Source: Boston College Center on Aging & Work Issue Brief No. 8-13 (September 2008)

United States: Older Workers Labor Participation Rates Examined

The Congressional Research Service has updated its research report on "Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends" to reflect census data suggesting that a trend of reduced participation in the labor force by older workers could affect economic growth. However, the report also notes that benefit changes may encourage higher participation rates.

Specifically, the data shows that while the number of people between the ages of 55 and 64 will grow by about 11 million between 2005 and 2025, the number of people who are 25 to 54 years old will grow by only 5 million. With respect to labor force participation, in 2007, 91% of men and 75% of women aged 25 to 54 participated in the labor force, but just 70% of men and 58% of women aged 55 to 64 were either working or looking for work.

On the other hand, the report notes that the rate of employment among persons age 55 and older is influenced by general economic conditions, eligibility for Social Security benefits, the availability of health insurance, and the prevalence and design of employer-sponsored pensions. Thus, participation rates among these older workers may be affected by the trend away from defined-benefit pension plans that offer a monthly annuity for life to defined contribution plans that typically pay a lump-sum benefit. In additin, the declining percentage of employers that offer retiree health insurance may result in more people continuing to work until they are eligible for Medicare at 65.

Source: Congressional Research Service Summary (September 15, 2008)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Urban Institute Study Finds Delayed Retirement by Poorer Boomers May Improve Retirement Finances

The Urban Institute has released a paper projecting wealth and income at retirement for low-income boomers. The findings suggest that most with low lifetime earnings will also have low incomes at older ages unless they either continue working or move in with others who help support them financially. Among other things, the report suggests that delaying retirement will improve outcomes for low-earning boomers, but will not increase retirement living standards dramatically.

In "Boomers at the Bottom: How Will Low Income Boomers Cope with Retirement, the authors Barbara Butrica, Eric Toder, and Desmond Toohey looked at the possible effects of delayed retirement, along with saving more and working more consistently over their lifetime. With respect to working longer, they projected delaying retirement by five years (from 62 to 67) and found that this would have a modest 10% increase on average lifetime earnings for purposes of calculating Social Security (rising from $11,000 to $12,100), but it would raise household income by 13% (from $10,700 to $12,100), because of the additional earnings that working generates on top of the increased income from Social Security, defined benefit plans, and retirement accounts.
Among low-lifetime-earner boomers, those with low income at age 67 have strikingly different work patterns at older ages than those with higher income at age 67. Only 15 percent of low-lifetime-earners with low-income work at age 67, and 11 percent work during retirement. In contrast, 47 percent of low-lifetime-earners with higher-income work at age 67, and 35 percent continue working after retirement. Among low-lifetime-earner boomers, low-income retirees will receive only $600, or 6 percent of their household income, from earnings, compared with %9,000, or 37 percent, for higher-income retirees.
Source: Urban Institute Research Summary (September 16, 2008)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ohio: Study Shows Older Workers To Remain in Workforce

According to research conducted by Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center, more workers over the age of 55 are expected to stay in the workforce in Ohio, with the proportion of older workers in the state's workforce expected to rise from 16.7% percent to 22.4% from 2006 to 2016--an increase of 34% during that 10-year period. The study ("Ohio's Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges for Ohio's Employers"), authored by Lydia K. Manning and Shahla A. Mehdizadeh, focused on anticipated age-related changes in Ohio’s workforce and the effect these changes might have on employers, employees and society.

Among other things, the authors note that two-thirds of Ohioans age 55 to 64 are expected to be in the state's workforce in 2016, roughly 20% of Ohioans age 65 and older are expected to be in the state's workforce in the year 2016, and, by 2016, two-thirds of all job openings in Ohio are expected to be for positions replacing retirees. Circumstances keeping people in the workforce include the elimination of traditional pension plans by many private employers, stock market losses eroding the value of 401(k) plans, and need for many people to retain access to employer-based health insurance.

Sources: Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center "Ohio's Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges for Ohio's Employers"; AHN "More Workers Over Age 55 Expected To Remain In Workforce" (September 12, 2008)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

United Kingdom: Research Suggests Older Workers Key to Retail Industry

According to new research by Skillsmart Retail, older employees are likely to be more loyal and stay in the retail sector long term. Following a survey by the Sector Skills Council into the attitude of retail workers that found that although while one-third of the retail workforce is under 25, employees in their 30's, 40's and 50's saw their jobs as much more permanent, Skillsmart Retail undertook a larger piece of research investigating the importance of older workers in an ageing population and shrinking labour pool.

The "Adult Retail Employment Survey" carried out in August 2008 by TNS Research found that 63% of 35-64 year-olds saw themselves continuing in retail for the foreseeable future-- nearly twice the average of that of all ages (37 per cent)--and that just 17% of 35-64 year-olds saw retail as a temporary phase, compared to the average figure of 41%.

Karen Charlesworth, Head of Research at Skillsmart Retail, said: "While more research needs to be carried out, this age group may be a key way of increasing the skills base in the industry and we are now looking into expanding our research in order to investigate this further."

Source: Skillsmart Retail News Releae (September 10, 2008)

Survey: Flexible, Delayed Retirements on Increase in United Kingdom

As part of CBI (Confederation of British Industry)/Pertemps Employment Trends Survey on telework and flexible work, CBI reports that the United Kingdom is experiencing a growth in flexible retirement. Specifically, in 2007, 31% of employees reaching retirement age asked if they could postpone their retirement. Employers granted 81% of those requests were granted, which CBI points out is still significantly lower than the 95% of flexible work requests from parents which are accepted.
Employers continue to face challenges when assessing requests to postpone retirement, and it is essential to keep a default retirement age as a trigger for discussion.

[John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General] said: "Many older workers do not want to retire, or do not feel financially secure enough to do so, particularly with the downturn in the housing market. In the majority of cases employers are very happy to retain older staff, who often have invaluable skills and experience."
Source: Confederation of British Industry Press Release (September 8, 2008)

Additional Reading: The Times "It is no time to retire as the gloom deepens" (September 8, 2008)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Canada: Study Evaluates Worker Understanding of Anticipated Retirement Income

According to research published by Statistics Canada, about two-thirds of Canadian "near-retirees" anticipate that their retirement income will be adequate or more than adequate to maintain their standard of living once they have left the workforce. In addition, individuals who receive advice are more likely than others to express confidence in the adequacy of their retirement savings to maintain their standard of living in retirement.

Of the 7.2 million Canadians aged 45 to 59 in 2007, about 80% or 5.7 million were actively or recently employed and had not previously retired. Of these 5.7 million near-retirees, 71% received financial advice from at least one source, and 50% received advice from at least one source in the financial industry. However, 29% do not receive any advice.

These results come from two articles by Grant Schellenberg and Yuri Ostrovsky drawing on the results of the 2007 General Social Survey (GSS) on family, social support and retirement: "The retirement plans and expectations of older worker", which examines when individuals plan to retire, the certainty they have in their plans, and their confidence in their financial preparations, and "The retirement puzzle: Sorting the pieces", which examines the retirement advice and information they receive.

Source: Statistics Canada The Daily (September 9, 2008)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Commentary: Myths and Prospects for Older Workers

James E. Challenger, president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc, debunks the myth that "[w]orkers over 50 who have lost their jobs will have a very difficult time obtaining another job." On the contrary, he says, older workers "are winning new jobs in approximately the same length of time as their younger counterparts."

Among other things, he points out that many employers are "placing a premium on experience to help them meet their increasing worldwide competition." In addition, a new study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas "shatters the myth that older workers are particularly vulnerable in this economic downturn. The fact is that pared-down companies may increasingly rely on seasoned veterans to get them through the downturn."

Challenger advices older workers looking for work to be accommodating, emphasize past examples of loyalty, emphasize relevant experience, demonstrate flexibility and creativity, look and act young, and stay current and embrace technology. In addition, he cites several industries as looking particularly favorably on older workers: healthcare, teaching, consulting, nonprofit Organizations, customer service/customer relations, and small Business.

Sources: Challenger, Gray & Christmas "Older Workers Still In Demand!" (September 10, 2008), "Advice for Job-Seeking Older Workers" (September 10, 2008); California Job Journal "Older Workers Find Favor in the Current Job Market" (September 7, 2008)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Montana: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Montana, the 15th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Montana: 2004":
  • 14.6% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.1% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the real estate and rental and leasing industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 22.9% of its workers in that age group, with the transportation and warehousing industry following with 20.9%; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 18.1% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (September 8, 2008)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Netherlands: Government Encourages Work Changes to Allow Later Retirement

Netherlands social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner has said taht people involved in physically heavy jobs, such as construction work, should be able to switch to lighter tasks so they can continue to work after they are 62.

In addition, Donner says that the government is working on measures for to make older staff more attractive to employers. This could include giving employers a discount on social security contributions if they employ someone between 62 and 65 years.

Sources: NU.nl "'Doorwerken in andere baan na zwaar werk'" ["'Give older workers lighter tasks'"] (September 3, 2008)

Survey: Older Workers Have Healthier Diet, Exercise More

A survey conducted by ComPsych Corporation found that 52.2% of workers in their 60s have healthy diets, compared to only 17.7% of employees in their 30s. In addition, employees in their 50s and 60s fared better in level of exercise, outlook on life, social support and stress levels.

Specifically, 27.3% of employees in their 50s exercised more than four days a week, while 19.6% of 30-something workers did so, 82.6$ of workers in their 60s had a very positive outlook on life, compared to 46% of employees in their 30s, and 30.4% of employees in their 60s had high stress levels, while 64.7% of 30-somethings had high stress.
"Our survey showed employees in their 30s were remarkably inactive," said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych....

"Workers in their 30s may be at peak productivity but also at greatest risk for neglecting their health and developing long-term health problems due to poor lifestyle choices," he added. "Corporate wellness programs should be especially attentive to the needs and issues of this age group."
Source: ComPsych Press Release (August 25, 2008)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Study Establishes Baseline for Civic Engagement among Retirees

According to an article published in The Gerontologist, civic engagement--defined as volunteerism and paid work, done for at least one day per week, that directly impact the local community--can now be considered a distinct retirement role. In "Civic Engagement as a Retirement Role for Aging Americans", written by Brian Kaskie, PhD, in collaboration with a team of University of Iowa researchers including Sara Imhof, PhD, Joseph Cavanaugh, PhD, and Kennith Culp, PhD., the authors argue that a more precise meaning of civic engagement is important to policy makers and program administrators and found that engaged retires differ significantly from those who volunteer less, work in non-civic roles, or do neither.

The research encompassed a survey of 683 retirees. Among the findings: 18% of respondents volunteered for more than five hours per week, and 6.3% held paid positions that were classified as civically engaged. The results also indicated that the non-engaged older adults tended to be less educated, less financially secure, and less healthy than their engaged counterparts.

Source: Gerontological Society of America Press Release (September 3, 2008)

New Zealand: Guidelines Issued for Retaining and Recruiting Mature Employees

New best practice guidelines to help employers look at innovative ways of retaining and recruiting mature employees have been released in New Zealand. The guide provides information both on older worker’s rights and responsibilities and tips for employers and was produced by a group comprising the Human Rights Commission, the Retirement Commission, the EEO Trust, Business New Zealand, the CTU and the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce. The guide--"Valuing Experience: a practical guide to recruiting and retaining older workers"--is available online and as a downloadable PDF.

According to Ruth Dyson, Minister for Social Development and Employment:
"The guidelines are part of The Tapping into the Talent of Older Workers project which builds on recent important steps, in particular the legislation to overcome age discrimination which has been important in shifting employer attitudes.

"Recent research by Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies has highlighted changing employers' attitudes towards older workers. Many employers recognise that older workers are loyal, reliable, committed and have more experience. However, some employers also believed inaccurate stereotypes such as thinking that older employees are unable to adapt to new technologies. We need to do more to challenge these misconceptions and combat age discrimination."
Sources: Minister for Social Development and Employment News Release (September 3, 2008); New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Press Release (September 3, 2008)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

South Carolina: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on South Carolina, the 14th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in South Carolina: 2004":
  • 14.9% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.3% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 21.7% of its workers in that age group, followed by the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (20.7%) and real estate and rental
    and leasing (20.5%) industries; and
  • the state's manufacturing industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 19.9% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (August 27, 2008)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

United States: Evaluation of Demand for Older Employees

An analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while the slowing economy has dampened the demand for older workers, the number of workers 55 and older is still growing significantly--shattering any myth that older workers are particularly vulnerable in this economic downturn. According to the Challenger report, employment among those 55 and older grew by 3.7% from July 2007 to July 2008 while the number of employed aged 20-44 declined by an average of 1.3%.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said that “The fact is pared down companies may increasingly rely on seasoned veterans to get them through the downturn. They may cost more in salary and benefits, but their experience and knowledge make them highly valued.”

The Challenger report also suggests that it is also a myth that older workers are for the most part underemployed, seemingly able to find only part-time, hourly wage positions in retail and other low-skill service industries, as the biggest employment gains for workers 55 and older occurred within management, professional and related occupations. In addition, the report notes that the preference for older workers can be seen in the significant drop in the amount of time it takes job seekers 50 and older to find new positions:
The median job search for those over 50 winning positions in the second quarter lasted 4.2 months, according to the latest Challenger quarterly survey of discharged managers and executives. That is just about two weeks longer than younger job seekers, whose median job search time in the second quarter was 3.6 months.
Source: Central Valley Business Times "Report: Older workers still in demand" (August 21, 2008)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taiwan: Numbers of Unemployed Older Workers Increasing

According to the China Post, Taiwan's Council of Labor Affairs has reported that the number of older Taiwanese workers who are unemployed has more than doubled over the past 10 years, indicating increased employment barriers for this group. Specifically, 75,000 workers aged 45-64 in Taiwan were unemployed in 2007, compared with 34,000 workers in 1997.

Of these unemployed workers, 37% were offered employment but turned down the jobs, mainly because the pay offered was too low. Of the remaining workers, 59% were hampered by age restrictions set by employers, while another 19% were not equipped with the skills required by employers. However, it was also acknowledged that the increase in unemployment of older workers was also partly due to the aging of Taiwan's population.

Source: China Post "Number of elderly jobless workers rising" (August 21, 2008)

Survey: Generational Issues Surface among Workplace Fears of Older Baby Boom Workers

According to a study based on in-depth interviews with 50 over-50 workers, fear of redundancy (layoffs, firings), relevance (keeping skills current), and resentment from younger associates are the greatest concerns for the Baby Boom generation. The research on "Ageism: Managing on the Bias" was conducted by Age Lessons.
Laurel Kennedy, president of Age Lessons, summarized key findings, "Older workers believe that younger associates drop them from critical informal communications networks, turning the office grapevine into a sour grapevine and blocking access to important political and business developments." Another key finding was defined as senior shutout, where companies inadvertently close-off career paths and training opportunities to mature workers, assuming that they either are uninterested or unwilling to accept a new challenge."
Kennedy suggested a number of fixes that companies can implement to maximize workplace morale, inlcuding:
  • awareness training during on-boarding about generational differences, office and meeting etiquette;
  • adopting age-neutral hiring and educational policies that look at the candidate pool irrespective of age;
  • forming intergenerational work teams to ensure cross-pollination across age cohorts; and
  • extending continuing and professional educational opportunities to older workers.
Source: Age Lessons Press Release (August 21, 2008)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

U.S. Economists Urge Raising Social Security Retirement Age

According to a working paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research, absent adjustment for higher life expectancies, the percentage of the U.S. population eligible for full Social Security benefits will climb by 2050 to about 20%. In "Adjusting Government Policies for Age Inflation", economists John B. Shoven and Gopi Shah Goda find that historical adjustment of eligibility ages for age inflation would have increased ages of eligibility by approximately 0.15 years a year.

The authors state that, at the time Social Security was created in 1935, an average 65-year-old retiree could expect to live just over 12 additional years; however, by 2004, an average 65-year-old could expect an additional 19 years of life. Accounting for higher life expectancies, "the Normal Retirement Age for Social Security in 2004 would have to be at least 71…and more likely 73 or 74" to be consistent with the retirement age of 65 in 1935, the authors wrote.

Source: Wall St. Journal Blog "Economists Warn of Effects of Age Inflation" (August 19, 2008)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Australia: Businesses Told to End Ageist Practices, Build Skills Training for Older Workers

According to Fran Ferrier, a researcher at Monash University's Centre for the Economics of Education and Training (CEET), if the Australian economy as a whole is to avoid a mass exodus of valuable human capital, businesses will need to be flexible and provide effective skills development for older workers. "There are now few programs specifically for this group and older workers face barriers to participation including ageist employer attitudes."

While the number of people aged 45 to 64 in the workforce has grown substantially, more than 40% of Australians still leave the workforce by age 55 and 80% by age 65, and only 5% are still working at the age of 70. Ferrer says that a key issue is skills: "helping existing workers to update and extend their skills encourages them to keep working."

Ferrer cited research she conducted at CEET with Gerald Burke and Chris Selby Smith to point out that businesses that take action have much to gain. Seven case studies discussed in the study--"Skills development for a diverse older workforce"--of at-work and community-run skills development programs run for, or with a high participation rate, of older people, identified benefits to both the businesses and the individuals involved.

Source: My Small Business"New tricks, not harder ones" (August 14, 2008)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oklahoma: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Oklahoma, the 13th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Oklahoma: 2004":
  • 14.5% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.4% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 21.1% of its workers in that age group; and
  • the state's health care and social assistance industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 15.9% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (August 14, 2008)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Singapore: Tripartite Implementation Group Launches Re-employment Web Portal

Singapore's Tripartite Implementation Workgroup (TIWG) has launched a web portal to help employers and employees get started on re-employment before the reemployment legislation takes effect in 2012. The portal can be found at www.re-employment.sg and it is intended to serve as a one-stop information and resource center for employers and employees on re-employment.

Among other things, the portal includes case studies of companies that have successfully implemented re-employment, lists seminars and workshops on re-employment, and provides information on assistance programs for companies that may require additional resources to implement re-employment. The portal also lists the workforce age profiles of over 250 companies from sectors such as hotels and restaurants, manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade; these companies have voluntarily posted their workforce age profiles on the portal in support of age-friendly and fair employment practices.

Source: Ministry of Manpower News Release (August 13, 2008)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New York: Mature Worker Task Force Issues First Report

New York's first annual Mature Worker Task Force Report to the Governor and the Legislature has been released. The report reflects the Task Force's background research, draft of overarching goals and objectives to frame the work of the Task Force, and identificattion of potential actions to explore with the full Task Force in the upcoming years. This preparatory work will be used as a starting place for the work of the full Mature Worker Task Force, which is scheduled to begin in the fall 2008 when full Task Force membership is anticipated to be in place.

The report identifies the Task Force's overarching purpose: "To improve economic development and the economic security of older adults through opportunities that recognize the value of mature workers and also seek to retain, retrain and offer second careers that will fill anticipated areas where there will be a labor deficit."

With respect to goals, the Task Force will address workforce shortage and workplace flexibility issues, expand employment opportunities for mature workers, and address age discrimination in the workplace. The four primary have been identified as (1) identify best practices for hiring, retaining, and retraining mature workers; (2) identify and address statutory and regulatory provisions limiting opportunities for mature workers; (3) serve as a clearinghouse for information for businesses seeking to hire mature workers and for mature workers seeking employment; and (4) assess effectiveness and cost of mature worker-related programs New York State has implemented.

Source: Mature Worker Task Force Report (July 29, 2008)

Australia: Older Workers Healthier than Non-working Peers

According to an analysis of the 2004–05 National Health Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, older workers had lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis than their non working peers. "Health of Mature Age Workers in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05" shows that 8 in 10 workers between 45-74 years had a chronic health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or obesity, compared with 9 in 10 of the non-working population.

Other findings included that mature age workers in capital cities (77%) were less likely to have a chronic condition than those outside of the capitals (83%), and that even with a major health condition, 56% of mature age workers assessed their health as very good or excellent, compared with 31% of those who were not working.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Media Release (July 29, 2008)