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 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)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Survey: More Companies Are Considering Implementing Phased Retirement Programs

A Hewitt Associates survey of more than 140 mid-size and large employers has found that 55% have already evaluated the impact that potential retirements could have on their organization and 61% have developed or will develop special programs to retain targeted, near-retirement employees. Even though only 21% believe that phased retirement is critical to their company's human resources strategy today, 61% believe so when looking ahead 5 years.
"With the rising tide of boomer retirees, employers will be losing key talent at a time when attracting and retaining skilled workers will be more important than ever," explained Allen Steinberg, a principal at Hewitt Associates. "At the same time, rising medical costs, lengthening life spans and the declining prevalence of traditional pension and retiree medical benefits mean that employees will either have to work longer, save more or live with significantly less than they are accustomed to. As these trends converge, we believe phased retirement programs will continue to become more attractive options for both employers and employees—they provide employers with new ways to retain critical talent and, at the same time, help employees meet their needs."
In addition, the survey finds that 72% of employers said that retaining the experience, knowledge and skills of older workers was the most important benefit to them in offering phased retirement programs. However, 65% said that offering part-time employment (on a year-round basis) represented one of the most effective ways of retaining near-retirement workers.

In addition to focusing on retention, 45% of the employers indicated they currently have policies in place that limit the ability to rehire retirees, but 46 % said they were likely to review their rehiring policies in the future.

Source: Hewitt Associates News Release (July 30, 2008)