Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Midwestern United States: Immigration Helping To Overcome Population Loss and Aging Workforce

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has issued a report finding that immigration is a demographic lifeline for metropolitan areas throughout the 12-state Midwest region, helping to overcome population decline and an aging workforce. According to "Growing the Heartland: How Immigrants Offset Population Decline and an Aging Workforce in
Midwest Metropolitan Areas,"
authored by Rob Paral, the number of native-born persons aged 35 to 44—in their prime working and tax-paying years—fell by 1.4 million from 2000 to 2010 in the Midwest, while the percent of Midwesterners who are in their late working years or early retirement years is on the upswing. On the other hand, while the number of native-born persons in Midwestern metro areas grew by only 3.3% between 2000 and 2010, the number of immigrants grew by 27%, so that immigration now accounts for 38.4% of all metro area growth in the Midwest.
“The demographics reveal that the immigrant population is here and important to the region’s growth,” said Juliana Kerr, who directs The Chicago Council’s immigration work. “Policymakers now should focus on developing effective policies to seamlessly integrate immigrants and leverage their economic potential.”
Source: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs Press Release (June 24, 2014)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Research: Pension Workshop Includes Presentations on Interplay of Continued Work and Pension Claims

The Netspar International Pension Workshop hosted by Venice International University in June 2014, heard presentations on a range of topics on the common themes of retirement, pensions and aging. Among other things, presentations included:Source: Netspar News Release (June 23, 2014)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Singapore: Government Announces Plan for Incentives to Employers Implementing Flexible Work for Mature Workers

At a speech on "Effective Workplaces: Creating a Flexible, Inclusive, Safe and Healthy Workplace" delivered at the Age Management Seminar, Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, announced several enhancements that the Singapore Government was going to make to WorkPro to help employers better manage mature workers, especially with respect to flexible work arrangements (FWAs). The most significant enhancement is to:
provide employers with a $10,000 incentive to pilot new FWAs, and an additional $10,000 to support them in implementing the FWAs company-wide. With the enhancement, employers can receive a total funding of $40,000 for implementing FWAs, including the reimbursement of expenses incurred during the pilot and company-wide implementation.
In addition, expanding on the $40,000 a year employers can currently receive if they have 30% of their workers using FWAs, there will also be a cash incentive of up to $25,000 a year for employers who have 20% of workers benefitting from FWAs.

Khor also announced that the goverment would introduce a Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) Facilitator’s course, to help arm employers with the necessary knowledge and tools to plan, design and evaluate workplace health programs for their workers. "This will ensure that all employers who tap on the Age Management Grant have the capability to actively promote healthy living among their employees, especially the older ones."

In order "for companies to understand the value that mature workers bring to their business, and adopt a nondiscriminatory mindset when it comes to hiring and managing workers," Khor said that the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers is launching an advertising campaign—entitled "Tap into a Wealth of Experience"—to highlight the value and experience that mature workers can bring to the workplace.

Sources: Ministry of Manpower Speeches (June 18, 2014); The Straits Times "$10,000 grant for bosses who try flexi-work schemes" (June 19, 2014)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Average Age of Disability Claims Rises to Above 50

The Council for Disability Awareness reports that, in 2013, the average claimant age exceeded 50 for the first time ever. Claims for those age 50 and older, mostly driven by claimants over age 60, have been consistently increasing as a percentage of the total, reflecting the aging of America's working population. According to its report, "2014 Long Term Disability Claims Review," 59% of the new claims approved during 2013 were for individuals age 50 or older. The Council also cites an aging workforce as one of the factors most cited by reporting companies as likely to impact future claim incidence.

In an article about the report for Bloomberg News, Craig Giammona writes that "Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG) are among insurers that have raised prices for the coverage after being caught off guard by higher-than-expected claims costs." In addition, he quotes Council President Barry Lundquist as saying: "On average, older people have higher wages and it’s harder for them to get back to work.When you think about the baby boomers and how old they are now, they have a much higher chance of becoming disabled -- maybe a four or five times higher chance in a given year than someone that’s in their twenties or thirties.…When you think about the baby boomers and how old they are now, they have a much higher chance of becoming disabled—maybe a four or five times higher chance in a given year than someone that’s in their twenties or thirties."

Sources: Council for Disability Awareness News Release (June 17, 2014); Bloomberg News "Aging Workers Push Disability Costs Higher for Insurers" (June 17, 2014)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Survey: Americans Find Later Life without Work To Be Impractical and Undesirable

A survey conducted by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Age Wave reports that 72% of pre-retirees over the age of 50 in the United States say their ideal retirement will include working. In addition, 47% of current retirees report having worked or planning to work during their retirement years.

According to the study ("Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations"), whereas retirement used to be viewed as a permanent end of work followed by a period of continuous leisure, not retirement is better viewed as a phased process, which the authors call "The New Retirement Workscape" consisting of:
  1. pre-retirement—for employees within five years of retirement, 37% have taken meaningful steps towards a retirement career, and within two years of retirement, 54% have done so;
  2. career intermission—52% of retirees report they took a break, averaging 2.5 years, before working again;
  3. reengagement—a period lasting around nine years, during which 83% of people working flex careers work part-time, as opposed to 17% in pre-retirement careers, and 32% are self-employed, as compared to 11% in pre-retirement careers; and
  4. leisure.
The full survey report has been made available. Source: Merrill Lynch Global Wealth ManagementNews Release (June 4, 2014)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Research: Does Health Care Reform Affect Labor Participation by Older Workers?

In a blog posting on MarketWatch, Alicia H. Munnell follows up on research published by Center for Retirement Research at Boston College on the effects of Massachusetts’ health-insurance reform. According to Munnell, analysis "yielded an interesting result. It showed that, compared to nearby states, 55-to-64-year-old males in Massachusetts experienced the largest decline in labor force participation between the time before and after the health insurance reform." Specifically, the state Massachusetts saw a decline in labor force participation for that group of 1.3 percentage points while the rest of the nation saw an increase of 1.7 percentage points.

One possibility for the difference could be the ability of those men to acquire affordable health insurance without having to wait for Medicare. In support of this theory, Munnell notes that "prior to Massachusetts’ health reform, 93% of 55-to-64-year-old males who were out of the labor force had health insurance; after the reform that number had risen to 97%."

Munnell then contemplated extrapolating these results across the country, in light of the Affordable Care Act. She said that, "[i]f unhealthy workers—or people who simply hate their jobs—were able to leave the labor force because of expanded access to health insurance, economists argue that this reduction may not be a bad thing." However, "if health reform alters the financial incentives to work through higher marginal income taxes on labor, as some have argued will be the case under the ACA, then a reduction in labor force participation may be a negative outcome of health reform."

Source: MarketWatch "Will health reform affect older workers?" (June 11, 2014)

United Kingdom: Pension Minister Launches Action Plan To Help Older Workers Stay in the Workplace

The United Kingdom's Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Minister Steve Webb has announced that the government will launch of a new action plan to support the economy, workers, and businesses, but stressed that British business must realize the potential of older workers and help people to stay in the workplace. Detailed in "Fuller Working Lives—a framework for action," the new measures include:
  • extending the right to request flexible working to all employees in June 2014;
  • the appointment of a new Older Workers’ Employment Champion—a respected and independent-minded figure who will advocate the case for older workers within the business community and wider society; and
  • the launch of a new Health and Work Service which will give workers with long-term health problems the support they need to stay in or return to work.
According to the announcement, while the employment rate for 55 to 64 year olds is around 60% and growing, the recent improvement has been relatively modest compared to many other nations, and several countries achieve employment rates of around 70% or above. Among other things, Webb said:
  • "Older workers have a huge amount to bring to any workforce and are a vast untapped talent."
  • "We are living longer and can expect many more years of healthy life. It’s great news – but it’s something that as a society and as an economy we need to respond to."
  • 'As part of building a fairer society, I am determined that we boost our support for older workers and help employers challenge outdated perceptions to see the real strengths of this important section of the workforce."
Source: Department for Work and Pensions and Steve Webb MP Press Release (June 13, 2014)

Other Sources: Daily Mail "Flexible hours push to help the over-50s stay in work: Pensions Minister says older generation are 'vast untapped talent'" (June 13, 2014)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finland: Rising Age for Pre-Retirement Unemployment Benefits May Be Causing Increased Unemployment among Older Workers

As reported in Yle Uutiset, Statistics Finland has found that seniors facing a growing risk of unemployment as they age, and a "Tampere University researcher says the reason for the trend could be the constantly rising lower age limit for pre-retirement unemployment benefits."

Specifically, the data is showing that for men the risk of becoming jobless was greatest between the ages of 58 and 59, while for women the corresponding age was 58, while in 20023, the risk of unemployment was highest for men aged 55 and for women who were 56.
University of Tampere special researcher Simo Aho said that the steady risk in the risk age is due to ongoing rise in the age at which workers become eligible for additional earnings-related unemployment allowance. Currently persons who lose their jobs are eligible for the allowance from the age of 58 until retirement.
Source: Yle Uutiset "Unemployment risk growing among pre-retirement workers" (June 9, 2014)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Sweden: Looking at Retirement Age and Proposals to Strengthening Labor Participation by Older Workers

SeniorPolittik.no is running a series of articles on Sweden and retirement. According to the lead story, even though, under Swedish law, an individual has no right to remain in employment after age 67, and Swedes have the right to withdraw retirement pension as early as age 61, among both employers and employees it is a deeply rooted belief that the earlier retirement age of 65, the normal retirement age.

Swedes work longer than workers in many other countries, such as Denmark and Finland. However, labor force participation among Swedes aged 65 and older is generally not as high as in for example Norway. Labour force participation among older Swedish women, however, higher than in Norway. Nevertheless, politicians are worried and stressing among other things, that Norway has been more successful in changing attitudes away from a fixed retirement age.

Drawing on a report prepared for the Swedish parliament earlier in 2014, it is apparent that negative attitudes towards older workers is common. The report notes that Norway's creation of a center for senior policy is a cause of the attitudes in Norway being less negative, and it concluded that it is not enough just to raise the retirement age to change the perception of older workers. Information and knowledge are also needed.

While the Swedish report notes that "everyone can not work indefinitely, but many are able to work with and much longer than is the case now," there are proposals to raise the statutory right to continue in employment to 69. In addition, a year ago, proposals were submitted o the government to raise the age for the earliest opportunity to receive a pension from the government gradually from 61 years, on the grounds that life expectancy is projected to increase.

Sources: SeniorPolittik.no, Retirement Age in Sweden: "Mener Norge har lyktes bedre" [Believe Norway has succeeded better], "Fant sin egen vei videre" [Found their own way forward], "Bør være en menneskerett å få arbeide" [Should be a human right to work] (June 2014);