Thursday, May 24, 2012

Connecticut: Report Suggests Aging Workforce Harming Economic Recovery

According to a report from the Connecticut Center of Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, the state is recovering from the recession, "but without the robustness needed to restore reasonably full employment and household income." Furthermore, "Connecticut faces a dismal future, with its 65 and over population doubling, its working age population shrinking while its quality deteriorates, and its under‐18 cohort contracts." However, according to "Recovery Stirring? But will Connecticut be too Old to Compete? The Connecticut Economic Outlook: May 2012," the state has "one asset that could vault it to the top of the growth charts and, critically, rescue it from its current bleak demographic trajectory."

According to the report's authors, the challenge for Connecticut is to replace all 120,000 jobs lost since 2008 and to create substantially more--at least 50,000 net net--to retain and attract new workers, to change its demographic future. To do this, they recommend that the state "unleash existing stranded tax credits in a highly targeted program to drive economic growth.  If the $2.5 billion in tax credits currently sitting unused and unusable on balance sheets could be redeemed ex post against the cost of major capital projects."
Given current labor force patterns and participation rates, with an aggressive expansion policy, Connecticut could effectively compete both to retain its own educated youth and to pull in thousands of new workers, significantly exceeding its previous employment level.  In the longer term, together with the initiatives in place, aggressive use of the stranded tax credits would launch Connecticut on a long‐term dynamic path that would continue expanding employment opportunities for two or more decades.
Source: The CT Mirror "Report: Aging workforce threatens state's economic recovery" (May 23, 2012)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Switzerland: Companies Begin To Look to Older Workers To Fill Skills Gap

A survey conducted by Monster.ch reports that 75% of Swiss companies say they see recruitement of people over age 50 as a solution to the shortage of qualified workers. However, only 37% of them are actually regularly hiring people over age 50, and 34% say they do not want to keep people on as salaried employees once they reach age 65.

"2012 Switzerland Recruiting Trends" („Recruiting Trends 2012 Schweiz“) documents the important trends and challenges of recruitment in Switzerland and contains estimates of the economic development of the labor market, and finds that the shortage of skilled labor remains a central problem of recruitment in Switzerland. Nine out of ten employers say that the age of their employees does not really matter, and that what is important is the true performance of employees. In addition, 86.3% want to keep their employees as long as possible in the company.

Sources: Monster.ch Press Release (May 23, 2012); Genevalunch.com "Message to older workers: we love you, we want you but not just yet" (May 23, 2012)

Monday, May 21, 2012

West Virginia: Demographer Reports Decline in Working Age Population

According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and evaluated by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), the number of working-age people is on the decline in West Virginia. In addition, the overall number of the working-age population ages 18-64 decreased by 0.03% between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011.

BBER demongrapher Dr. Christiadi stated that "The year of 2011 may be the start of the new trend where the number of state’s working-age population gradually shrinks over time." The prime working-age population (people ages 25-44) saw the largest drop of 0.6%, and this trend took place in 48 of 55 counties (87.3%), with 13 counties (23.6%) declining more than 2%.
"When it comes to people getting or changing jobs, the state still sees more people moving out rather than moving in. In addition, West Virginia has more and more out-of-state college students, which partly explains why we see more college graduates moving out of the state," Christiadi said.
Source: West Virginia University Press Release (May 18, 2012)

Thailand: Aging of Workforce in Industrial Sector

According to an article in the English language "The Nation," Thaiand's industrial sector's labour force is aging, adversely affecting productivity. Research conducted by Srawooth Paitoonpong at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) has found changes in the workforce's age, gender and educational make-up between 1991 and 2010. While the industrial-sector labour force has been younger than those in the agricultural and service sectors, Srawooth reports that the number of young workers had plunged from 55% to nearly 21% during that period, while the number of older workers rose to 20% from 12%.
The causes are the Kingdom's lower birth rate and the trend for young people to spend more years in educational institutions.

"The average age of a labourer was 32 in 2010, up from 27 in 2004," said Srawooth.

"The rising proportion of ageing workers has had a negative impact on labour productivity, so training is needed to improve older workers' productivity," he suggested.
Source: The Nation "Ageing workforce hits industrial-sector productivity, says TDRI report" (May 21, 2012)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GAO Issues Report on Status of Unemployed Older Workers in the United States

The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report focusing on the status of unemployed older workers coming out of the recession. As a report to the Senate Special Committee on the Aging, the GAO's "Unemployed Older Workers: Many Experience Challenges Regaining Employment and Face Reduced Retirement Security" examines:
  1. how older workers’ employment status has changed since the recession,
  2. what risks unemployed older workers face and what challenges they experience in finding reemployment,
  3. how long-term unemployment could affect older workers’ retirement income, and
  4. what other policies might help them return to work and what steps the Department of Labor (Labor) has taken to help unemployed older workers.
The GAO concluded that "Although long-term unemployment hurts job seekers of all ages, it poses some greater challenges for older workers." Among other things, "older workers tend to stay unemployed longer, and those who regain employment generally sustain greater wage losses than do younger workers."

Without providing specifics, GAO recommended that, to foster the employment of older workers, the Secretary of Labor should consider what strategies are needed to address the unique needs of older job seekers, in light of recent economic and technological changes.
Labor agreed with our recommendation and noted a couple of its initiatives focused on the employment of older workers. Specifically, Labor cited its current evaluation of the Aging Worker Initiative demonstration project, which will assess the success of new interventions used by 10 local grantees to help connect aging workers with employment opportunities. In addition, Labor cited its sponsorship of the annual National Employ Older Workers Week that provides outreach opportunities for SCSEP grantees.
For an audio interview by GAO staff with Charles Jeszeck, Director, Education, Workforce & Income Security, go to GAO website.

Source: U.S. General Accountability Office Highlights (May 15, 2012)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

United Kingdom: Survey Shows Retirees Would Prefer Gradual Retirement

A survey of people planning to retire this year in the United Kingdom shows that 40% of them would be happy to work past 65 if they had the chance. According to the Prudential Class of 2012 study, 48% of men and 32% of women would be happy to continue working past the standard retirement age.

Prudential reports that the main motivation for 68% of the retirees who want to stay in the workforce past 65 is a desire to remain physically healthy and mentally active, while 39% do not like the idea of retiring and just staying at home. Despite wanting to stay in work, only 13% would choose to continue to work full-time with their current employer. Rather 49% of them would prefer to work part-time, either with their current employer or in a new role, in order to strike a better work life balance.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said:
Gradual retirement is an increasing trend among pensioners, whether this means remaining in the same job on a flexible basis or even setting up their own business! Those retiring at 65 will face an average of nineteen years in retirement which makes the financial and social benefits of working for longer an even bigger draw for a new generation of industrious retirees.”
Source: Prudential Assurance Co. Press Release (May 2, 2012)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

United Kingdom: Cambridge Academics Approve Age 67 Mandatory Retirement

Cambridge University has introduced a compulsory retirement age of 67 for its academics to promote "intergenerational fairness" and enable career progression, according to press reports. Cambridge conducted the vote in response to the United Kingdom's abolition of the default retirement age, but it applies only to academic employees.

In voting for an "employer justified retirement age" (EJRA), the academics have decided that, upon reaching 67, they must either take their pension or reapply to stay at the University. Claire Churchard, writing in People Management, quotes Indi Seehra, HR director at the university as saying:
Introducing the EJRA for academics will support intergenerational fairness. It will allow our academics to progress through the promotional stages in the course of their career and help to create a balanced distribution of ages.

...

In an environment where innovation is needed, you need new people to come in to the cohort to create innovation. But you need the capacity to allow them in, and if you haven’t got people leaving then that will be a restriction on the capacity for new people.
Sources: People Management "Cambridge academics approve compulsory retirement age" (May 3, 2012); The Cambridge Student "Analysis: Should Cambridge dons be made to retire at 67?" (April 26, 2012)

New Hampshire: Aging Demographics a Cause for Concern

The Carsey Institute of the University of New Hampshire has issued a demographic report that while New Hampshire does not have a large population of seniors, a rapid increase in the older population is inevitable and coming soon. Among other things, in "New Hampshire Demographic Trends in the Twenty-First Century," the author, Kenneth M. Johnson, the Institute's senior demographer, argues that while New Hampshire’s large population of working-aged adults has provided much of the human capital the state needs to fuel continued economic growth, the lack of significant growth in these age groups is a cause for some concern.
New Hampshire’s age structure dictates that the number of older adults will increase rapidly in the next two decades. There are currently 97,000 65- to 74-year-olds in New Hampshire. In contrast, there are 179,000 55- to 64-year-olds and 226,000 45- to 54-year-olds.
New Hampshire's economy had been fueled by in-migration, but "the loss of migrants has an immediate financial impact on the state and implications for its human, intellectual, and social capital." During the recession, in fact, out-migration has resulted in New Hampshire experiencing a 10.6% net loss of the 20- to 29-year-olds coveted by employers. Thus, Johnson argues, "[a\ggressive programs exemplified by the 'Stay, Work, Play Initiative' should be considered to retain young adults, encourage those who left to return, and attract more young adults to the state."

Source: The Carsey Institute Publication Abstract (May 1, 2012)

Norway: State Employee Unions Seeking More Time Off for Senior Workers

According to press reports, labor unions representing state workers are demanding 12 extra days off every year, plus even more for senior workers over age 62, in order to make it easier for the employees to take care of aging parents, for example, and to discourage older workers from retiring. In particular, "[o]ne of the unions, Akademikerne, also wants workers over age 62 to receive 28 additional days off, in addition to the 30 days of paid holiday they get every year. That means senior employees would effectively get three months off every year."

As reported by Newspaper VG, Rikke Ringsrød, the union's chief negotiator in the state, since the government is trying to get more people to remain longer in work and senior political holidays (currently, all state employees over 62 years receive eight holidays a year, plus up to 6 days as may be agreed with the local employer) have proven to be useful, the union proposal is to provide flexible arrangements that each individual can choose between reduced fractional positions or other arrangements to choose to be in the job. He further suggests that these are employees who are of great benefit to employers, and that it is better that they are nine months on the job than they disappear from the workplace.

VG says that Government Ministers Rigmor Aasrud, responsible in government for wage, would not comment on the union proposals.

Source: Views and News from Norway "State workers want more time off" (May 2, 2012)

Australia: Commission Opens Broad Inquiry into Legal Barriers to Labor Force Participation by Older Workers

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released an Issues Paper for its Inquiry into legal barriers to mature age participation in the workforce and other productive work. According to the ALRC, "Grey Areas: Age Barriers to Work in Commonwealth Laws" is intended to form a basis for consultation--to encourage informed community participation by providing background information and highlighting the issues so far identified by the ALRC.
ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said “There is often a complex interaction between things that are ‘barriers’ to workforce participation and things that are ‘incentives’ to leave the workforce. Leaving the paid workforce may also mean people are able to make a valuable contribution in other productive work—like the hugely important role of volunteers in our community.

The ALRC considers that six interlinking principles should guide reform in this area: participation; independence; self-agency; system stability; system coherence; and fairness. One key question we are asking in the Issues Paper is whether there are any other principles that should inform our deliberations. Other questions refer to changes that should be made to remove barriers in the various areas of law under review.”
In addition to this initial "framing" question, ALRC seeks responses to 54 other questions on age pension, income tax, superannuation, social security, family assistance, child support, employment, workers’ compensation and insurance, and migration. Among the employment questions that it raises are:
34. In what ways, if any, can the practices of private recruitment agencies be regulated to remove barriers to mature age employees entering or re-entering the workforce?

38. How does the operation of the modern award system affect mature age employees and in what ways, if any, can modern awards be utilised or amended to account for the needs of mature age employees?

41. Where is it best to include information about occupational health and safety issues relevant to mature age workers?

43. What measures involving regulation and monitoring, if any, should be introduced to ensure (a) employers are responsive to the needs of mature age employees; and (b) mature age employees are actively involved in developing and implementing such measures?

44. What are some examples of employment management best practice aimed at attracting or retaining mature age employees?

46. What other changes, if any, should be made to the employment law framework to remove barriers to mature age participation in the workforce or other productive work?
ALRC has provided an online form to make submissions on its inquiry.

Source: Australian Law Reform Commission Media Release (May 1, 2012)