Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Research: Financial and Insurance Industries Ahead of Others in Preparing for Aging Workforce

According to the latest in a series of industry-focused looks at employer preparedness for an aging workforce, researches at Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College report that , the finance and insurance sector in the United States is potentially better prepared for the aging workforce than other industries. In "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Finance & Insurance Sector," the Center reports that, despite low morale following the economic downturn, firms in this sector have greater awareness of employees’ career plans, work preferences, retirement rates, and are further along in developing succession plan.

The percentage of workers in the financial and insurance industry aged 55-64 has increased by about 38% from 2000-2007, and the proportion of workers aged 65 and over has increased by about 10%, according to the research.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (August 2010)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Research: Ignoring and Devaluing Older Workers as Age Discrimination

According to a story in the Bangor (ME) Dailiy News, a researcher is finding a different type of harassment, the isolation and resentment of older workers by younger workers. In a story written by Mal Leary, University of Maine sociology professor Amy Blackstone, who is leading an ongoing study of older Mainers in the workplace, is quoted as saying that "[t]he clearest trend that I have noticed is this issue of isolation or feeling demeaned or left out."

As a form of discrimination that sees unique to older workers, she said that the harassment is very different from that experienced by young and middle-aged workers, which principally is sexual in nature. Blackstone reports that many of the older workers she has surveyed express a sense of being "devalued" by their younger co-workers and that their life experience was not considered important to the other workers.

Source: Bangor Daily News "Older workers face different type of harassment" (August 15, 2010)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Study: Many Older Workers in Difficult or Physically Demanding Jobs Could Lose Out if Retirement Age Increases

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has published a study that demonstrates that a large number of U.S. workers--in particular, those in physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult work conditions--would be adversely affected by raising the normal retirement age for Social Security. In "Hard Work? Patterns in Physically Demanding Labor Among Older Workers", researcher Hye Jin Rho found that, in 2009, 45% of workers age 58 and older had physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult working conditions and that, among other things, these were disproportionately held by less educated, poorer, and minority workers.

The study reports that, among other things:
  • difficult jobs were held by 62.4% of Latino workers, 53.2% of black workers, 50.5% of Asian Pacific American workers, and 42.6% percent of white workers.
  • older workers with less than a high school diploma had the highest share of workers (77.2%) in difficult jobs.
  • 56.4% of older workers in the bottom wage quintile had physically demanding jobs compared to only about 17% of those in the top quintile.
  • 63.3% of older workers in the bottom wage quintile had difficult jobs compared to only about 25% of those in the top quintile.
According to Rho, "Many older workers are in jobs that require substantial physical effort, jobs that may not afford them the option of working into their 70s in order to get full retirement benefits."

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research News Release (August 5, 2010)

Additional Resource: New York Times "Retiring Later Is Hard Road for Laborers" (September 12, 2010)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Recession Impairing Ability of State and Local Governments To Adjust Retireee Health Liabilities

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence has released an issue brief finding that the U.S. economy has slowed the ability of local governments to address long-term funding of their retiree health care obligations. "How Local Governments are Addressing Retiree Health Care Funding" looks at 206 jurisdictions that were had reported in 2009 that they were likely to adopt a long-term strategy to strengthen their retiree health care funding.

According to the new brief, while the economy, insufficient revenues, and competing budget priorities have posed significant impediment to their plans, many jurisdictions are making sweeping changes in their retiree health care plans. Specifically, the brief reports that:
  • 36% of the jurisdictions have increased or plan to increase the years of service required to vest.
  • 11% have increased the retirement age.
  • 39% have eliminated or plan to eliminate retiree health benefits for new hires.
Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence News Release (August 5, 2010)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

United Kingdom: Study Finds Few Changes in Employer Age-Related Practices

In a review of employer practices since the 2006 implementation of the Age Regulations in the United Kingdom, there has been little change in most employers’ age-related policies and practices. According to Second survey of employers’ policies, practices and preferences relating to age, 2010 by Hilary Metcalf and Pamela Meadows for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions (Employment relations research series No: 110), age continues to play a direct role in policies and practices across the range of human resource areas. In addition to retirement, it is particular common in recruitment and, due to a maximum age for pension accrual, in benefits. In addition, the percentage of establishments monitoring the age profile of their workforce has fallen from 32% to 22% since 2006.
There are some areas where the situation appears to have changed, however. These include a reduction in age-related criteria being used in redundancy selection and pay enhancements and a slight decline in the use of compulsory retirement. There has also been a growth in the number of employers’ equal opportunity policies which explicity cover ‘age’ and the use of formal performance appraisals, both of which might help guard against age discrimination.

Source: TAEN News Archive (August 4, 2010)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

State Governments Changing Retirement Rules, Requiring Later Retirement

State governments are increasingly requiring many new government employees to work longer before retiring with a full pension, or are increasing penalties for early retirement, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. As written by Jeannette Neumann, Michel Corkery, and Marcus Walker, states are responding to widening gaps between the obligations made to workers and the money expected to be available to pay them. "Though lengthening lifespans have been expected to pressure pension systems, the looming fiscal predicament has emboldened lawmakers to demand more years from employees."

Among the changes highlighted in the article:
  • Illinois--lawmakers voted in March to increase the retirement age for most new hires to 67 from 60.
  • Utah--new fire and public safety employees as of July 1, 2011, must work 25 years, up from 20, before getting a full pension. Most other state employees must now work 35 years instead of 30 before receiving their pension.
  • Arizona--increased the "retirement rule"—worker's age plus years of service before retirement—to 85 from 80.
Source: Wall Street Journal Stressed States Are Forcing Workers to Retire Later (February 2, 2010)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Urban Institute Research on Generational Shift in Retirement Patterns

According to research published by the Urban Institute, older adults in the United States are now working longer and taking more complex routes out of the labor force. The study examines how retirement behavior changed over the past 30 years by comparing labor force exits by older workers in three different five-year cohorts--those born from 1913 to 1917 (part of the G.I. Generation), 1933 to 1937 (part of the Silent Generation), and 1943 to 1947 (the early years of the Baby Boom Generation).

In "Work and Retirement Patterns for the G.I. Generation, Silent Generation, and Early Boomers: Thirty Years of Change", co-authored by Richard W. Johnson, Barbara Butrica, and Corina Mommaerts, it is reported that more than 40% of men born 1943 to 1947 did not retire by age 65, compared with only 20% of those born 1933 to 1937. In addition, Men and women born 1933 to 1937 were much more likely than those born 20 years earlier to move to part-time work at older ages and return to work after retiring instead of following the traditional route of retiring only once directly from full-time employment.
Sixty-two is now the most common retirement age by far. More than one-fifth of men born 1943 to 47 working at age 61 retired at age 62. While average retirement ages have been creeping up recently and labor force participation rates have surged after age 62, the share of adults retired by age 62 had not fallen much, especially among men. In light of the financial benefits of working longer and overall improvements in employment prospects at older ages, it is surprising that participation rates have not increased more among men in their late fifties and early sixties. As policymakers debate the wisdom of increasing Social Security's early entitlement age, understanding why so many worker continue to retire by age 62 is a crucial research challenge.
Source: Urban Institute Press Release (August 2, 2010)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

United Kingdom: HSBC Survey Finds Many Older Workers Change Careers

According to press reports, a survey conducted by HSBC shows that 30% of the UK’s 21.3 million over 50s have changed careers in their later working years and that 41% of those aged 60 to 70 have done so. While 21% of those who have changed their career did so as a result of being made redundant, 15% chose to "career shift" for a change of direction, and 11% because they were looking for a career that was less pressurized and demanding.

According to David Wells, Head of Pensions, Savings and Investments at HSBC:
As the requirement for people to work longer becomes more apparent it appears that the over 50s are embracing this head on and pursuing the careers they have always wanted. Many it seems are doing this to fill a shortfall in retirement income, but equally many are looking to embrace new skills and challenges that may now only become possible after careful financial planning during their earlier working life.

Source: The Age and Employment Network "Changing Careers Common among People Aged 50+" (July 30, 2010); HRMagazine.co.uk "Growing numbers of older workers plan upskilling in a bid for a career change" (July 30, 2010)