Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Civic Ventures Publishes Guide to Encore Careers

Civic Ventures has published a guide for baby boomers starting to search for encore careers that combine greater meaning, continued income, and social impact. "Looking for an Encore Career? The Guide to Finding Work That Matters" provides practical tips, case studies, and recommended resources.

Among other things, it addresses what a person should expect looking for a job, how to update job skills, how to finance the transition to an encore career, how to turn volunteering into a job, among other topics.

Source: Civic Ventures News Release (November 30, 2009)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Study: Generational Differences at Work More Matter of Perception than Reality

Differences among the generations in the workplace--Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y--are more about perception than reality, with each viewing other generations more harshly than they view their own. However, according to a Conference Board of Canada study, the generations are more alike than they realize.

The report--Winning the Generation Wars: Making the Most of Generational Differences and Similarities in the Workplace--is based on a literature review as well as a survey of over 900 workers. According to the report, negative stereotypes of the three generations include:
  • Boomers are seen as less comfortable with technology, less open to change, and less accepting of diversity than other generations;
  • Generation X workers are seen as cynical, independent, and easily annoyed by any hint of being micro-managed; and
  • Generation Y workers are seen by older colleagues as lazy, difficult to manage, and perpetually prepared to bolt from the organization as soon as another opportunity arises.
Tim Krywulak, Senior Research Associate, said that “This research shows each generation includes workers with similar personality types, workplace motivations, and social behaviours. Workers from all three generations want respect, flexibility, fairness, and the opportunity to do interesting and rewarding work.” Employers should manage the differences in perceptions among the generations while recognizing the cross-generational similarities in workplace preferences, by, among other things:
  • implementing programs, policies and practices that respond to the cross-generational desires for respect, flexibility and fairness in the workplace;
  • building a culture of inclusion to address the negative stereotypes about the generations in the workplace; and
  • learning from effective practices used by other organizations.
Source: Conference Board of Canada News Release (November 16, 2009)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Research Suggests Employers Need to Shape Workplace to Fit Health Needs of Older Workers

Published results of an investigation of 14,714 employees from the French national gas and electricity company, the GAZEL cohort, for up to 7 years before and 7 years after retirement, has found that suboptimum health increased with age, but that between the year before retirement and the year after, the estimated prevalence of suboptimum health fell from 19·2% to 14·3%, corresponding to a gain in health of 8—10 years. However, people with a combination of high occupational grade, low demands, and high satisfaction at work showed no such retirement-related improvement.

The researchers note in their article "Self-rated health before and after retirement in France (GAZEL): a cohort study" published in The Lancet that they conducted the investigation since governments need to increase the proportion of the population in work in most developed countries because of ageing populations. The results led them to conclude that the burden of ill-health, in terms of perceived health problems, is substantially relieved by retirement for all groups of workers apart from those with ideal working conditions, and that working life for older workers needs to be redesigned to achieve higher labour-market participation.

According the report, a poor work environment and health complaints before retirement were associated with a steeper yearly increase in the prevalence of suboptimum health while still in work, and a greater retirement-related improvement. However, only about 2% of workers were in the "ideal" circumstances of having a combination of high occupational grade, low demands, and high satisfaction at work.

Sources: Medical News Today "Better Working Conditions And Job Satisfaction In Order To Keep Older Workers In The Workforce (GAZEL Study)" (November 9, 2009); eZonomics "Late is the new early for retirement" (November 18, 2009); Reuters Blog "Health and the older worker" (November 19, 2009)

A parallel report on the sleep habits of these workers was published in the journal Sleep. According to that article, retirement is followed by a sharp decrease in the prevalence of sleep disturbances, likely resulting from the removal of work-related demands and stress rather than from actual health benefits of retirement. The postretirement improvement in sleep was more pronounced in men, management-level workers, employees who reported high psychological job demands, and people who occasionally or consistently worked night shifts.

Source: ScienceDaily "Sleep Disturbances Improve After Retirement" (November 2, 2009)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Business Week Publishes Special Report on the "Unretired"

Business Week has published a special report exploring how--with the financial crisis having forced people to postpone, rethink, or come out of retirement--retaining this talent pool brings both opportunity and challenges for companies. The report includes:Source: Business Week Special Report: How to Manage "Generation Unretired" (November 17, 2009)

Eight Organizations Honored for Helping Older Workers into Encore Careers

Civic Ventures and MetLife Foundation have named eight organizations as winners of the 2009 Encore Opportunity Awards awarded to organizations that are making it easier for experienced workers to transition into encore careers--paid jobs that offer meaning and the chance to make a social impact. Among other things, the winners are engaging people over 50 in creative ways to protect public safety, build low-income housing, teach job skills, preserve the environment, and even save dying Native American languages.
"This year's Encore Opportunity Award winners are innovative, adaptable and smart – and clearly recognize the need to take advantage of the windfall of talented older Americans," said Dennis White, CEO and president of MetLife Foundation. "These trailblazing employers can serve as a model for others to follow."
On the employment front, the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was cited for its recruitment and employment of encore workers to fill jobs at all levels; one-fourth of the it's civilian and sworn work force is over 50, coming from previous careers in government, retail and business. In addition, the Orleans Technical Institute (a division of JEVS Human Services (Philadelphia)) was cited for hiring retirees from the building trades as instructors to provide training and individualized support to an "at-risk" student population; more than half of the school's employees are 50-plus, including full- and part-time instructors, support staff, recruiters and counselors.

Source: Civic Ventures Press Release (November 17, 2009)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Survey: Employers Still Not Prepared for Boomers Leaving Workforce

Even though millions of Baby Boomers are poised to age out of the workforce, companies in the United States remain unprepared for their departure and the "imminent talent desert that promises to alter the productive capacity of business and disrupt the national economic landscape," according to a report issued by Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. In particular, 68% of the 696 organizations surveyed do not yet know how old their workers are or what proportion is likely to retire, while 40% stated that the aging of the workforce will have a detrimental impact on their organization in the next three years.

The 2009 Talent Management Study: The Pressures of Talent Management also reports that:
  • 77% of employers surveyed had not analyzed projected employee retirement rates or assessed employee career plans;
  • 56% had not assessed the skills their organizations need today and into the future; and
  • 30% reported not having enough programs for recruitment, and 35% not enough for training of older workers.
The study's authors note that while the aging population will affect companies differently, the long-predicted workforce desolation has generated surprisingly limited responses. Baby Boomers represented the largest portion (48%) of the U.S. labor force in 2000, but this is estimated to decline to 37% by 2010, leading some economists predict labor shortages of 10-15 million in the coming decade.
“The out-migration of an entire generation of workers will upset the entire balance of the workplace,” said Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work and report co-author. “Knee-jerk reactions to today’s challenging economic reality aside, US companies need to start planning strategically for workforce sustainability. The current abundance of older worker talent and experience is going to dry up, and businesses will very soon need to fill hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.”
Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College News Release (November 17, 2009)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Singapore: Tripartite Guidelines on Re-Employment of Older Employees Released For Public Consultation

Singapore's Minister for Manpower and Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers are inviting public consultation on a new draft Tripartite Guidelines for Re-employment of Older Employees that is aimed at preparing businesses and employees for re-employment legislation come 2012. This is an updated expansion of the advisory issued in April 2008, incorporating feedback from both employers and unions.

Among other things, the draft guidelines provide practical advice on good re-employment practices, including:
  • giving employers the flexibility to employ and retain older workers beyond the minimum statutory age of 62;
  • offering practical solutions to help employers put in place the necessary systems and processes for re-employment, such as pre-retirement planning and re-employment consultation, job arrangements for re-employment, adjustments to wages and benefits, and the offer of employment assistance payment (EAP); and
  • encouraging older workers who are adaptable and skilled to continue to work and contribute to the society.
The public may provide feedback and views on the draft guidelines via the Consultation Channel in the REACH portal by December 18, 2009. The tripartite partners expect to finalize and release the guidelines early next year. Source: Ministry of Manpower Press Release (November 16, 2009)

Friday, October 30, 2009

AARP Issues Report on Job Training for Older Workers in Alabamat

According to AARP, over the past five years, 59% of Alabama workers age 40 and over have participated in job-related skills training or education programs offered to them by an employer, and 86% of them indicate they personally have not had to pay for that training. These are some of the results of a survey commissioned by AARP to gain a deeper understanding of the perspective, skills, and needs of older workers in the state to better provide them with focused, targeted information and resources.

The full report "Job Skills Training and Opportunities: Opinions and Perceptions of Alabama Workers Age 40+", authored by Jennifer H. Sauer and Cassandra Burton, also finds that 86% of older workers are satisfied with the work-related training opportunities offered through their employers, with 60% saying they are extremely or very satisfied, and another 26% indicating they are somewhat satisfied. Looking forward, 51% said they were extremely or very likely to engage in any job training through their employer over the next five years, but 31% said they were not likely to do so. In addition, 52% did not think that additional job training would help them advance in their job or help get a better job.

On worker attitudes towards employment as they get older, the survey reports that, among all Alabama workers and those looking for work, 40% plan to continue working at their current job either full or part-time when they reach retirement age. "For the majority of respondents, needing or wanting additional income (84%), enjoying work (84%), building up a personal savings (79%), and maintaining health coverage for themselves or their families (72%) are major/minor factors in deciding to work beyond retirement."

Source: AARP Knowledge Management Survey Report (October 2009)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

United Kingdom: Study Released on Employers and Aging Workforce

According to research conducted by the United Kingdom's Institute for Employment Studies and the Policy Studies Institute, only half of employers have a formal pro-age recruitment policy, and many are nervous of discussing age issues with workers as they approach retirement. However, many businesses are open to making adjustments to the workplace to help retain staff if the issue is raised on an informal basis.

The report "An Ageing Workforce--The Employer’s Perspective", authored by Helen Barnes, Deborah Smeaton, and Rebecca Taylor and funded by Nuffield Foundation, explores the attitudes of employers towards older workers, the range of interventions in place to prevent early exit and facilitate their continued employment. The report found that many employers are happy to let people carry on working after the normal retirement age of 65, and many would also be happy to see compulsory retirement abolished, but that they need support to get the best out of more mature workers.

According to Barnes:
The role of line managers is crucial here. Employers must make a greater effort to communicate with staff and highlight that alternative working arrangements are a possibility, and that staff have a degree of choice in the run-up to retirement age. Employees on their part also need to be better informed of their rights to help encourage them to engage with their employer.
Other findings include:
  • Formal pro-age recruitment policies and age management policies are more common in larger organisations.
  • Some employers did express reservations around older workers, where they did not match their customer demographic or there was a heavy manual element to their work.
  • Health is still largely regarded as a private, individual matter rather than a concern for employers beyond meeting specific health and safety regulations.
  • Some employers simply do not have any experience of staff retiring, often because they have a small business or a new business with a young workforce. Larger employers were familiar with the retirement process and more often had policies in place to manage the process.
  • Older workers in sectors with skills shortages are recognised as a valuable resource, and employers are keen to retain them.
In addition, a summary of the report is available.

Source: Institute for Employment Studies Press Release (October 21, 2009)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Urban Institute Research Shows Increase in Older Worker Labor Participation Rates

Growing concerns about retirement income security appear to be leading to an increase in seniors’ labor force participation rates stems, according to a report from the Retirement Policy Program of the Urban Institute. "Rising Senior Unemployment and the Need to Work at Older Ages" also reports that unemployment rates for older workers reached record levels in 2009, partly because fewer workers eligible for early retirement benefits are dropping out of the labor force. With more older workers remaining in the labor force and searching for work after they lose their jobs, the there is an imperative for new policies that help address the special challenges that older job seekers face.
Unemployment has serious consequences at older ages. It usually takes older workers an especially long time to become reemployed. The earnings lost while out of work certainly make it more difficult for unemployed people to meet current spending needs. But unemployed older workers also forgo Social Security and pension credits and are less able to save, leaving them with less money in retirement. When older workers become reemployed, they usually end up earning much less than they did on their former jobs.
Among other things, the report calls for the federal and state governments to improve workforce development programs. They need additional funding and be redesigned to better serve workers of all ages. In addition, Congress could change Medicare secondary payer rules to require the federal health insurance program to provide primary coverage to workers age 65 and older with employer-sponsored health benefits, instead of forcing these older workers to rely primarily on their employer’s insurance.

Source: Urban Institute Press Release (September 23, 2009)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Research: Lower Income Unemployed Older Workers Facing Economic Crisis

ExperienceWorks has released a research report finding that 46% of low-income unemployed workers age 55 and older need to find jobs so they don’t lose their homes or apartments, and approximately half (49%) have been looking for work for more than a year. The research was based on a survey of 2,000 people enrolled in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

According to "Overlooked and Underserved: The Crisis Facing America’s Older Workers, 38% of these older workers had retired but they are going back to work, and many have no end in sight for their working years. For those who do have a retirement time frame, the average targeted retirement age is 72. In addition, 90% of survey respondents age 76 and older plan to continue working in the next five years.
“These people are at the age where they understandably thought their job searching years were behind them,” said Cynthia Metzler, president and CEO of Experience Works. “But here they are, many in their 60s, 70s and beyond, desperate to find work so they can keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.” Forty-six percent of these older job seekers say they sometimes have to choose between paying rent, purchasing food or purchasing medication.
In addition, according to the report, older workers say the poor economy and age related barriers including lack of the necessary training are the most significant challenges they face to finding employment. 73% strongly agree or somewhat agree that their age makes it difficult for them to compete for jobs with younger workers.
“This study underscores the need to create policies that remove barriers to employment for older workers, and provide additional programs and services specifically aimed at helping older people re-enter the workforce or remain working,” said Metzler. “These actions will benefit everyone because training programs such as the SCSEP have proven to be successful in helping unemployed older workers transition to unsubsidized employment.” The SCSEP, which is the only federal program designed specifically for older low-income workers, is currently funded to serve less than 1 percent of the eligible population.
Source: Experience Works Summary (September 22, 2009)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

AARP Announces 2009 Best Employers for Workers over 50

AARP has announced its annual list of the 50 best employers in the United States for workers 50 and over, and, for the first time one employer--Cornell University--has repeasted as the top finisher.
“AARP is delighted that Cornell has placed first for the second year in a row in the Best Employers program,” said Deborah Russell, AARP’s Director of Workforce Issues. “The university is famed for its creative academic policies and its approach to 50 and over workers is no different. It has continued to innovate with new programs in the past year.”
Among the programs offered by Cornell, noted AARP, are a formal phased retirement program for faculty and staff, telecommuting and compressed work weeks, a retiree health and prescription drug plan heavily subsidized by the university, paid time off for care giving, and access for retirees to continued university education at no charge.

At AARP's Best Employers site, AARP has published its list of the top 10 innovative international employers and, for the first time, a separate hospitals and health care best employers honor roll.

Source: AARP Press Release (September 9, 2009)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Japan: Workers Over 60 Increase to 10% of Workforce

According to survey results from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, workers aged 60 or older comprised 10% of full-time employees for the first time in 2008. In addition, almost 60% of employers had such senior employees. The 10% rate represented an increase of 2.4 points from 2004 and over doubling from the 49.% rate in 1992.
Among other findings, 50.2 per cent of responding businesses employed workers aged 60 to 64, 26.9 per cent employed workers in the age bracket of 65 to 69, and 15.6 per cent had people aged 70 or older on their payroll.

Smaller establishments tended to have more elderly workers, the ministry said. For example, the rate of senior employees there was 12.0 per cent at those employing five to 29 workers.

By sector, real estate had the highest rate at 18.1 per cent, followed by transportation with 14.9 per cent and mining with 13.7 per cent.

The survey also found that 89.1 per cent of businesses with a mandatory retirement age of 60 to 64 had programs to continue employing workers after the limit.
Source: Business Standard "60% businesses employed senior people in 2008: Poll" (August 21, 2009)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Europe: Consultation Opens on Designating 2012 Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity

Following on April's conference on intergenerational solidarity, the European Commission has been receiving calls to organize a European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity. The purpose would be to increase the awareness of the contribution of older people to society and spread innovative measures that could help to mobilize the full potential of the ageing baby-boom cohorts.

Accordingly, it has launched a consultation with the purpose to collect ideas and suggestions from key stakeholders and experts on how to achieve the greatest possible impact with such a European Year and to help the Commission decide whether and how to organize a European Year. There are separate questionnaires for citizens, organizations, and public authorities. Responses to the questionnaire, which is meant to help respondents in structuring their response to this consultation and the Commission in analyzing the responses, should be submitted by the 31st of July 2009, preferably in English, French or German.

Source: European Commission News Release (July 17, 2007)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Study: Younger Workers Hurt More by Recession; Older Workers Show Resilience

According to a study published by Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging & Work, younger workers are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis, while older employees show greater resiliency in a recession-battered workplace where employers seek to do more with less. Specifically, in "The difference a downturn can make: Assessing the Early Effects of the Economic Crisis on the Employment Experiences of Workers", while researchers found employees of all ages reporting a drop in employee engagement (a measure of how invested and enthusiastic employees are in their work),
Workers among "Generation Y" – ages 26 and younger – report the greatest decrease in engagement. Those slightly older workers in "Generation X" – ages 27 to 42 – reported less of a decrease, while Baby Boomers and older "Traditionalists" – ages 43 or older – reported that their levels of engagement hardly changed at all.
Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Center, suggests that "[s]ome older workers have been through recessions before and that gives them experiential resilience." Furthermore, she comments that "[s]avvy employers will leverage older workers' experience to help younger workers manage through turbulence," and "hat sense of resilience can help organizations remain energized and passionate."

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work Stages (June 2009)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Australia: Study Suggests Blue Collar Workers More Likely To Delay Retiremement

According to news reports, researchers report that Australian baby boomers' expected retirement age is now reaching 64.3 years and that it is blue-collar boomers--more likely to struggle with the physical demands of working into their late 60s than white-collar workers--who are bumping up the expected retirement age. According to a paper "Which of Australia’s Baby boomers expect to delay their retirement? An occupational overview" by University of Tasmania social researchers Natalie Jackson and Maggie Walter to be presented on July 9, "Professionals and Associate Professionals--many of whom hold so-called "critical skills" which are central to the functioning of many businesses, organisations and departments--have the youngest expected retirement ages, while Labourers and Production/Transport Workers have the oldest."

In comparing expected and preferred retirement ages, Jackson and Walter find that the gap between the two is generally bigger for blue-collar than office workers, with "insufficient financial resources to support retirement" cited as the main reason. For example, tradespeople in the automotive sector expect to retire at a median age of 66.1 years, but their preferred age of retirement is 58.3.

Overall, the study shows a rapid rate of change in the expectations of Australian workers towards retirement. "As recently as 1997, average age of retirement was 58 for males and 41 for females," it notes. "Our overall finding is of a median expected retirement age of 64.3 years for workers aged 40-59 in 2006."

Source: The Australian "Baby boomers ready to work longer" (June 1, 2009)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

United Kingdom: Older Workers Worried about Recession

Workers aged 50 and over in the United Kingdom are worried about a recession double whammy according to a survey released by Help the Aged and Age Concern: afraid they will be forced out of their jobs due to their age and worried that their retirement incomes will be decimated by the recession. On the job front, 28% fear that their age will see them forced out of jobs if their employer decides to reduce staff numbers due to the economic downturn; and on the retirement income front, 47% said they are less confident than six months ago that their pension and savings will provide them with a comfortable standard of living in retirement.
This situation means for many‚ continuing working and retaining earning potential is more important than ever before. A massive 60 per cent of respondents said the recession has meant they will have to or want to work longer than originally planned. Yet‚ the economic situation and the lack of support available for over 50s who do lose their job will leave many of them permanently out of work and facing a long and difficult retirement.
Source: Age Concern News Release (May 26, 2009)

Friday, May 15, 2009

OECD Urges Countries: Don't Lump Older Workers among Disabled

Addressing policy challenges for disabled workers in a time of high unemployment, the OECD co-sponsored a High-Level Forum on Sickness, Disability and Work and, in its final communique, warned against repeating the mistakes of the past where in previous economic downturns, many older workers who lost their jobs were pushed onto disability benefit rolls rather than unemployment benefit schemes.
"While this may seem a harmless short-term measure, we now know that most people who receive a disability benefit for more than a year will never work again," said John Martin, OECD Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. "It is crucial that governments align short-term social protection measures taken in response to the downturn, with longer-term goals of economic security and strong labour force participation."
As one of the background papers showed, older workers dominate the disability benefit rolls.

For links to other information, see OECD's "Sickness, Disability and Work" project.

Source: High-Level Forum on Sickness, Disability and Work Final Communique (May 15, 2009)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Research: Second Careers for Older Workers

AARP's Public Policy Institute has published a research report examining the characteristics of workers who change careers in late life, finding, among other things that later-life career change seems to be an important part of the retirement process. According to "Older Workers on the Move: Recareering in Later Life", authored by Richard W. Johnson, Janette Kawachi, and Eric K. Lewis of The Urban Institute, nearly two-thirds of workers who change jobs (and 27% of all older workers) switch occupations.

Called such career changes "recareering," the study reports that workers who change careers typically move into jobs that pay less and offer fewer benefits. However, the new careers tend to offer more flexible work arrangements, less stressful working conditions, and fewer managerial responsibilities. For workers interested in delaying retirement after long careers, such jobs may be just what they are looking for. In addition, the study finds that late-life occupational change is more common among men because women are less likely to continue working if they leave an employer in their fifties.
The research concludes that later-life career change seems to be an important part of the retirement process. Many changers later in life appear to be pushed into new lines of work involuntarily following job layoffs or business closings. Others, however, appear to place a high premium on leaving 9-5 work and moving into more flexible positions, even at less pay. Some older workers may change careers in hopes of finding more meaningful jobs that give added purpose to their lives.
Source: AARP Public Policy Institute Research Report (May 2009)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Europe: First European Day on Solidarity between Generations

The European Commission declared April 29 the first "European Day on Solidarity between Generations." In conjunction with that, various events took place throughout Europe.
"Over the coming years, the first baby-boomers will be starting to retire. This marks the beginning of a fundamental shift in the balance between retirees and people of working age. We have to make sure that ageing will not undermine solidarity between generations", said Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
Among other things:
  • a conference on "Intergenerational Solidarity for Cohesive and Sustainable Societies" was organized by the Slovene Presidency in Brdo, seeking "to reinforce social links between generations as well as to initiate a shift in policy-making to promote greater solidarity between generations."
  • the results of a Flash Eurobarometer on "Intergenerational Solidarity" was released. It showed considerable disparity in views about the generations among older and younger people. With respect to working, 56% of Europeans believe that as people work to an older age, fewer jobs will be available to younger workers.
  • Eurofound launched a special website which brings together its recent findings, data and recommendations on issues related to the employment of older people, and active ageing issues, and the solidarity between generations.
Source: European Commission "Intergenerational solidarity: key to responding to demographic ageing" (April 28, 2009)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

China: Study Points Pension Reform to Deal with Coming Age Wave

A report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies warns that the aging of China’s population could usher in a new era of slower economic growth and mounting social stress as tens of millions of Chinese arrive at old age over the next few decades without pensions and with inadequate family support. The authors of "China’s Long March to Retirement Reform: The Graying of the Middle Kingdom Revisited" evaluate recent government efforts to prepare for the challenge and outlines an ambitious new reform plan and argue that, despite the current economic situation, delay in addressing address the long-term aging challenge is not an option.

Among other things, Richard Jackson, Keisuke Nakashima, and Neil Howe present a plan that provides for a universal poverty backstop that would protect all Chinese against an uncertain old age, and that would also create a national and fully portable system of funded retirement accounts. This would allow China to care for a much larger number of older people without overburdening its smaller working generation and help China to maintain rates of savings, investment, and living standard growth as its population ages. With respect to retirement age:
The minimum retirement age would initially be set at 60 for men and 55 for women, just as it is in the current basic pension system. These low retirement ages are necessary because today’s older workers often do not have the skills to compete in China’s rapidly modernizing economy. But as these workers are replaced by younger and higher-skilled cohorts and as China’s population ages, longer work lives will not only become feasible, but essential. Our plan therefore provides for gradually raising the minimum retirement age for both sexes to age 65 by 2030, after which it would be indexed to longevity.
Sources: Center for Strategic & International Studies Summary (April 22, 2009); Reuters "Age wave to come crashing soon over China's economy" (April 27, 2009)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

AARP Research Report Explores New Means for Transitioning to Retirement

An AARP research report has been published exploring the concern that policies being explored to extend working lives—-and delay the claiming of Social Security benefits—-as a means to ensure workers' retirement security and Social Security's finances may inflict real hardship on some older workers who retire earlier because of health and related problems. Accordingly, in "Employment Support for the Transition to Retirement: Can a New Program Help Older Workers Continue to Work and Protect Those Who Cannot?", David Stapleton of Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., proposes a new program--Employment Support for the Transition to Retirement (ESTR)--that could help “break the deadlock” that stymies efforts to adopt policies that encourage later retirement.

Stapleton's vision of ESTR is that it would provide assistance to workers who experience large involuntary earnings losses as they approach age 62. It would provide a wide range of benefits, tailored to individual need—including wage subsidies and other work supports, health insurance subsidies, disability benefits, extended unemployment benefits, and employment counseling. While not individually new, what is new is the idea of a substantial and coordinated expansion of these elements in the context of retirement policy reform.

Source: AARP Research Report In Brief (April 2009)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thailand: Aging Population Leading to More Workers over 60

Thailand’s population is aging faster than any other in Southeast Asia except Singapore, according to a new study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), and this will affect the country’s productivity and socio-economic development. In "Decent work for older persons in Thailand," Rika Fujioka, of the ILO’s Regional Economic and Social Analysis Unit in Bangkok, and Sopon Thangphet, Policy and Plan Analyst with the Northern Regional Economic, found that more people over the age of 60 are now continuing to work, although often in unfavorable working conditions with insecure incomes and limited social protection. The data also suggest that the daily or hourly wages that older people receive are much lower than those of other employed people, and that the majority of older people consider their incomes to be insufficient.

Among the report's recommendations:
  • Promoting employment opportunities for older persons is both timely and indispensable for enhancing Thailand’s productivity and socio-economic development.
  • Expanding the sectors where older people can find work. Many currently work in agriculture but other potential sectors include commerce, manufacturing, transport, storage, communications and, in rural areas, community-based cottage industries.
  • Increasing the income-generating potential of older people is essential, to mitigate the large gap between the over 60’s and younger workers.
Source: International Labour Organisation News Release (April 13, 2009)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Study Shows More Californians Working Longer

According to a report issued by the California Budget Project, employment rates of Californians at or near retirement age continued to rise even during the economic downturn. Specifically, in 2008, 63% of people age 55 to 64 were employed, up from 58.4% in 2000 and 54.8% in 1995 after having been fairly stable before then (1995 was just up 1.2% from 1979). For older workers, those 65 to 69, 29.7% were working in 2008, up from 22% in 2000.

When looking at the numbers on a gender basis, the Budget Project found that the trends for men and women aged 55 to 69 varied. While about half of women are still working, a figure that has climbed steadily from 32% in 1979, the percentage of working men declined from 58% in 1979 to 51% in 1995, then rebounded to 60.7% in 2008.

Looking more closely at the current economic downturn, older workers have been increasing their participation rates while they drop for younger workers. Thus, the share of Californians age 55 to 64 who were employed increased by 0.9% between 2007 and 2008 (from 62.1% to 63%) and the employment rate of Californians age 65 to 69 rose by 4.5% (from 25.2% to 29.7%), while the share of Californians age 25 to 54 who were employed declined by 1.2% 2007 and 2008.

Sources: California Budget Project Policy Points (April 2009); San Jose Mercury News "More Californians working later in life, especially women" (April 7, 2009)

Friday, March 20, 2009

United Kingdom: How Age Diversity Can Help Business during Downturn

Nicola Brewer, the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom's Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that employers who retain the skills and experience of older workers will be better placed to emerge from the recession. Speaking at a one-day conference organized by the Commission and the Age and Employment Network on "Age Diversity in the Downturn," she lso argued that the economic downturn should not be used as an excuse to justify redundancy on the grounds of age.
"We already have more people in the UK over state pension age than under 16, and, within 15 years, a third of the workforce will be over 50. Embracing the skills of older workers should be a top priority--unless we are prepared to miss out on a third of the available talent pool."
Her words were echoed by The Commission's Policy Director Alan Christie, Policy Director at the Commission, who said "We must stop stereotyping and worrying about how many candles a worker has on their next birthday cake, instead of looking at what they can offer. It's important to recognise that flexibility can help business weather the difficult times and prepare for the recovery, by attracting and retaining vital talent and skills, including older workers."

Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission News Release (March 20, 2009)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

United Kingdom: Study Finds Lack of Training and Learning Opportunities for Older Workers

The University of Leicester's Centre for Labour Market Studies has released a study with a stark warning about the lack of training and learning opportunities for older workers. The report--"Older Workers – Older Learners"--prepared for the Learning and Skills Council East Midlands shows "show the lack of preparedness that the region and society as a whole have towards the ageing of our workforce and of society more generally. Yet the ageing workforce is one of the more valuable assets a business can have."

According to Dr. Vanessa Beck, who led the project, while it was disappointing to find the lack of preparedness and the extent to which learning and training opportunities were taken up, "it was surprising to see that on an individual and organisational level, there are a whole host of practices in place that can benefit older workers as well as the organisations that employ them."
Practices and policies already in place that could, in some form, benefit older workers include flexible working; Apprenticeships enabling them to move into different areas of work; structured learning and training supported by the Train to Gain service, Skills Pledge, Skills Accounts, and Foundation Degrees accrediting expertise older learners already have; reward systems; and positive age awareness management.

Older workers are valued for their experience and expertise, knowledge which can be passed on to younger colleagues either formally through apprenticeship assessment or informally as mentors in the workplace.
Source: University of Leicester Press Release (March 10, 2009)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Insurance Group Recommends Making Workplace Modications to Prevent Injuries to Older Workers

According to a new white paper by the PMA Companies, older workers are a benefit to the companies that employ them, but injuries to older adults tend to be of higher severity. Thus, U.S. companies should consider making workplace modifications that prevent injuries.

"Capitalizing on an Aging Workforce," authored by Ken Nogan, Risk Control Consultant at PMA Insurance Group, reports that since 1977, the number of people 65 and older in the workforce has increased more than 100%. Contrary to expectations, however, as over-55 workers increase in the workplace, so does productivity and overall workplace safety. However, the paper finds that, when older workers do experience injuries, severity can be significant, which is an issue that must be considered by safety professionals. Specific recommendations were made to help implement risk control measures designed for the needs of older workers, including:
  • Slip and fall prevention: Falls alone account for more than one-third of all injuries sustained by workers 65 and older, and it takes an older worker two to three times longer to recover from an injury than a younger counterpart.
  • Safe driving: Death rates for work-related roadway crashes increase steadily beginning at around age 55, and older drivers are more likely than other drivers to have a crash at an intersection or when merging or changing lanes on a highway.
  • Return to work: Because claim statistics reflect a connection between increased healing time and age, there is a need for highly responsive return to work efforts for older workers.
Source: PMA Companies News Release (March 4, 2009)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Denmark: Survey Finds Workers in Health and Social Services Industry Delaying Retirement

According to a survey conducted by Pensionskassernes Administration (PKA), fewer PKA members in the health and social services industry are retiring than earlier. The number of active members over the age of 60 has increased from 13,500 to 18,000 between 2005 and 2008, while the proportion of health workers retiring at 60 fell to 13.2% in 2008.
"It surprises us that things are going that way--fewer retire when several have been given the option. It is of course positive for society, because especially in the health sector are labor shortages. But it is also good for the individual who will receive a higher pension by deferring the retirement age a few years, "says member manager of PKA Britt Brandum. [Google Translate from Danish]
According to Brandum, the vast majority of PKA members, around 90%, are women who have a life expectancy of around 85 years. Thus, when those whose choose to retire at 60 face a long retirement period of 25 years.

According to Peder J. Pedersen, professor of Velfærdsforskning at the Department of Economics, University of Aarhus, and a member of the Employment Commission, the figures are interesting and reflect a stated desire of employers for older workers to work a few extra years because of labor shortages. While if this progress continues, the shortage of manpower in the health sector will be easier, but to close the gap completely, it must be something more dramatic.

Sources: Pensionskassernes Administration Nyt fra PKA (February 26, 2009); Investment & Pensions Europe "Fewer Danish health workers are retiring early" (February 27, 2009)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Senate Aging Committee Takes on Older Worker Issues

Following the release of GAO's report of federal government hiring of older workers, Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, joined by several other Senators, has introduced three bills to make it easier for older Americans to either reenter or remain in the workforce. In addition, the Committee has held a hearing to examine how the poor economy is affecting those nearing retirement.

The proposed legislation includes: (1)"The Older Worker Opportunity Act of 2009," which would diminish the barriers to part-time work for older workers, such as loss of health coverage and decreased pension benefits, by providing a tax credit for employers that employ older workers (age 62+) in flexible work programs, (2) a bill (S. 469/H.R. 1198) to make it easier for the federal government to rehire federal retirees part-time, without forcing the employee to reduce their salary by their pension amount, as under current law, and (3) a bill to allow phased retirement for federal employees under the Civil Service Retirement System. In addition, Kohl has reintroduced the "Health Care and Training for Older Workers Act of 2009" (S. 281), which would extend COBRA health insurance from the time of retirement (ages 62 and up) until seniors become eligible for Medicare at age 65.

At the Committee hearings on "Boomer Bust? Securing Retirement in a Volatile Economy," testimony was provided on "the economic downturn’s effect on retirement security, particularly for those who are on the brink of retirement. Witnesses at the hearing offered insight into the myriad factors that are affecting the ability of baby boomers to retire, including the weakened performance of 401(k) funds, the instability of housing values, and the challenges of the labor market for older workers, all of which are contributing to diminished prospects for a secure retirement."

Sources: U.S. Special Committee on Aging Press Release (February 24, 2009); Press Release (February 25, 2009)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

United States: GAO Report Recommends Increased Communication among Agencies to Enhance Retention and Hiring of Older Workers

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report recommending that Office of Personnel Management (OPM) broadly disseminate agency-developed promising practices to hire and retain older workers. In putting together "Older Workers: Enhanced Communication among Federal Agencies Could Improve Strategies for Hiring and Retaining Experienced Workers", GAO interviewed officials at three agencies with high proportions of workers eligible to retire and identified agencies’ promising practices to hire and retain older workers.

GAO notes that the proportion of federal employees eligible to retire is growing. In fact, at four agencies—-the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Transportation-—46% of the workforce will be eligible to retire by 2012. However, GAO also notes that the federal government has historically enjoyed relatively high retention rates, with 40% or more of federal employees remaining in the workforce for at least five years after becoming eligible. In addition, in fiscal year 2007, federal agencies hired almost 14,000 new workers who were 55 years of age or older and brought back about 5,400 federal retirees to address workforce needs.

The three agencies GAO examined rely on older workers in different ways: USAID brings back its knowledgeable and skilled retirees as contractors to fill short-term job assignments and to help train and develop the agency’s growing number of newly hired staff. SSA uses complex statistical models to project potential retirements in mission critical occupations and uses these data to develop recruitment efforts targeted at a broad pool of candidates, including older workers. HUD relies primarily on older workers to pass down knowledge and skills to junior staff. In addition, GAO noted that other agencies have developed practices that are useful in tapping older workers to meet short-term needs, such as the Department of State, which has developed databases to match interested retirees with short-term assignments requiring particular skills.

GAO concludes that while at least three agencies have developed their own practices that show promise in recruiting and retaining talented older workers who have needed and specialized skills, little attention has been paid to sharing it with other agencies. Accordingly, it calls on OPM to "develop a systematic approach, which may include communicating through the CHCO Council, to share information broadly across the federal government about agency-developed promising practices in recruitment and retention of older, experienced workers to meet their workforce needs."

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office Report Summary of GAO-09-206 (February 24, 2009)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Canada: Report Shows Obesity Affecting Work Performance and Highest among Older Workers

According to research from Statistic Canada, obesity among employees is more than just a personal health issue when it begins to affect job performance, and obesity is most prevalent among older workers aged 55 to 64, 21% of whom were obese in 2005. "Obesity on the Job" points out that this held for both men and women, although the prevalence was lower among women.

Among other things, obesity, especially for women, may have a negative impact on workers more often through presenteeism (that is, reduced productivity on the job) rather than absenteeism. In addition, obese men age 55 to 64 had a higher risk of reducing their work activity due to a long-term health problem.

Source: Statistics Canada The Daily (February 20, 2009)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Survey: Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools May Help Knowledge Retention in Oil Industry

A survey of collaboration tools in the oil and gas industry conducted by Microsoft and Accenture finds that 53% of those surveyed reported that aging workers are retiring in increasing numbers, despite the economy. According to Claire Markwardt, a Houston-based partner with Accenture, employees are retiring because they still see more benefits in accepting the lump sum offered by several oil companies to employees that reach a certain age than in staying longer in their work and waiting to see their retirement plans rebound.

Even though 70% believe that collaboration and knowledge-sharing are important for driving revenue, cutting costs, and contributing to the health and safety of workers, according to the "Oil and Gas Collaboration Survey 2009," the tools primarily used to retain the knowledge and intellectual capital from retiring workers are largely older methods, such as electronic file shares (64%), databases or repositories (58%), and written documents/physical files (58%); in addition, "almost a quarter of respondents reported exit interviews as the tool used most often to capture knowledge from these workers."

Asked to suggest better means of transferring knowledge, the respondents overwhelmingly supported new collaboration technologies. The most beneficial social media tools cited were:
  • Internet portals (81%);
  • social networking sites (58%);
  • video or photo sharing (56%);
  • blogs or mini-blogs (44%); and
  • wikis (43%).
Sources: Accenture News Release (February 19, 2009); "Older Oil Workers Still Retiring Despite Economic Crisis" (February 19, 2009)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Canada: Economy Leading Boomer Business Owners To Delay Retirement

According to a poll conducted by the Royal Bank of Canada, 37% of Canadian boomers who plan on retiring in the next five years and who own their own business plan on delaying their retirement due to current economic conditions. The Bank's 19th Annual RBC Registered Retirement Savings Plans Poll also found that 28% of Canadian boomers plan on delaying their retirement due to current economic conditions, 43% say their retirement has been delayed between one and two years, 37% say three-to-five years, and 9% say they don't know.

Further comparing business owners to other boomers, the survey found that 32% of retiring boomer business owners say they will never fully retire, 19 percentage points above the Canadian boomer average. 50% of retiring boomer entrepreneurs say they will be semi-retired or working part-time at age 65, compared to 40% of the general boomer population. In addition, only 37% of retiring boomers who own their own business expect to be fully retired at the age of 65, as compared to the Canadian boomer average of 47%.

Source: Royal Bank of Canada Press Release (February 18, 2009)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Urban Institute Issues Policy Brief on How To Help Older Workers Find and Retain Jobs

The Urban Institute Retirement Policy Program and Health Policy Center has issued a policy brief to address the uncertain retirement future that older Americans are facing, focusing on policies needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare, get health care spending under control, and make staying in the labor force at older ages easier, while still protecting disabled workers.

According to "It’s Not Easy Being Gray: The New Rules of Retirement", the recession, changing mixes of retirement programs, and other changes are creating a retirement dilemma that will affect all Americans, not only those nearing retirement. "Workers will be expected to finance a large share of the bill for retirees: fixing government retirement programs could require higher tax burdens for everyone."

The Center convened a roundtable of experts in retirement, aging, health, and long-term care policy, who outlined a number of policy implications, including:
  • Because older adults will likely have to postpone retirement and work longer, public policies that encourage early retirement need to be rethought, like the Medicare secondary-payer rule that requires employers—not Medicare—to cover most health care costs for workers age 65 and older.
  • Older workers, especially low-income seniors, could benefit from employment services focused on connecting them to jobs and training.
  • Older workers may be more willing and able to stay employed if they could work flexible schedules, but since employers in a slow economy may not embrace such options as job sharing, extended leave, and phased retirement, the public sector could step in and take the lead.
  • More service providers will be needed as the nation grows older; for example, seniors aged 80 and older will need home care and other services that help them remain in their communities. Younger seniors in good health and with free time could be part of the solution, helping staff the jobs that serve the oldest old.
Source: Urban Institute Retirement Policy Program and Health Policy Center Abstract (February 17, 2009)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

United Kingdom: NHS Employers Puts Forth Best Practices for Older Workers

In conjunction with the Channel 4's broadcast of "Too Old To Work," NHS Employers has emphasized the importance of demonstrating new and imaginative approaches to age diversity in the workforce in light of the demographic challenge it faces.

NHS Employers states that there is clear evidence that both staff turnover and absenteeism are reduced and that motivation and commitment are improved in organisations employing people of all ages. In particular, as a result of the NHS Employers age diversity work programme, 78% of NHS organisations had workforce policies for age in place in 2007, either as part of wider equal opportunities policies or specifically on age diversity.
NHS Employers knows that the NHS is working hard to address the issue of age discrimination and has a key role in highlighting good practice case studies among NHS organisations. One good practice case study is Sheffield PCT.

Chris Stocks, Head of Human Resources, Sheffield PCT, said:

"After we'd fully assessed the legislation, the Board - fully supported by the trade unions - agreed to do away with the default retirement age of 65 and give employees the choice of working longer if they so wanted.

"We then wrote out to staff and briefed managers on the reasons and practical implications. The move has been well received by staff."
NHS Employer resources include information on the business case for utilizing older workers and anonymised examples of good practice in the NHS.

Source: NHS Employers Press Release (February 10, 2009)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Commentary: Unemployment and Older Black Workers

Writing in Black Voices, Matthew Scott suggests that it may turn out that older Black men may be the group at greatest risk during the recession in the United States. This of special concern, since "[h]aving a significant number of older Black Americans unemployed and unable to support themselves less than 10 years from retirement raises major challenges for the Black community."

Source: "The Hidden Concern In Unemployment Numbers: Black Elderly" (February 11, 2009)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nevada: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 30 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Nevada, the 30th and last state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Nevada: 2004":
  • 16.2% of workers were 55 and older, while 4.0 were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 22.7% or more of its workers in that age group, followed by agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting, with 20.9% in that age group, and real estate and rental and leasing, with 20.8%; and
  • the state's accommodation and food service industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 28.7% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (February 9, 2009)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Survey: Financial Planners Report Clients Nearing Retirement Age Are Staying at Work

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has surveyed clients of financial planners and reports that nearly 35% of those approaching retirement age are postponing leaving the workforce because of recent economic conditions. 67% of those plan to delay retirement no more than five years, but 9.6% are planning on postponing retirement six or more years.
"What this suggest is that 70 is the new 65," AICPA Vice President James Metzler said. "People are living longer and getting more satisfaction from working later in life. At the same time, the market downturn has reduced wealth and CPA financial planners are seeing clients delay retirement plans as a result."
Source: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Press Release (February 5, 2009)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Survey: Baby Boomers in United Kingdom Shifting Attitudes towards Retirement

A survey conducted by Standard Life shows a transformation in attitudes to retirement amongst the baby boomer generation. As presented to a Reform debate on "The Death of Retirement," the research found, among other things, that rather than retirement being when they stop work, 39.3% of adults in the United Kingdom (rising to 42% of 46-65 year olds who are wealthier) want to continue to be involved at work but on their own terms, whereas only 15% of their parent's generation wanted to stay in some kind of work at retirement.

Andrew Haldenby, Director, REFORM commented: "This debate shows there is clear support for the idea of an active retirement and the fact that people need to take more control. Government needs to do more to encourage that." Nigel Waterson MP, Shadow Pensions Minister said: "Retirement should be less of an event and more of a process. We need to move away from the notion of pensions towards long term savings. It's all about flexible retirement."

Source: Standard Life Press Release (February 4, 2009)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Cambodia: Enforcing Mandatory Retirement to Open Up Jobs for Younger Workers

According to an article in the Phnom Penh Post by Kay Kimsong, Hun Sen issued a directive on January 12 calling for the retirement of all male officials over the age of 60 and all female officials over the age of 55, in accordance with laws that have been on the books in some form since 1994. According to supporters, enforcement of the mandatory retirement rules will lead to new ideas and reduce civil servant corruption.

Thus, for example, Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said more opportunities for corruption materialise the longer employees stay in the same job. Sieng Rithy, chief of the education and advocacy unit for the Khmer Youth Association, said enforcement of the directive would enable a new generation of employees to shape policies.

Source: The Phnom Penh Post "Young workers stand to gain from rule on retirement age" (February 3, 2009)

Report: Economy Leading to Record Labor Participation Rates, Unemployment by Older Workers

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports that older Americans’ labor force participation has reached a 40-year high, with workers holding onto their jobs and putting off retirement as the recession worsens. At the same time, unemployment rate is also growing for older workers

According to EPI Issue Brief 251--"Older Americans in the recession: More are staying in the workforce, more are losing their jobs", workers 55 and over are 18.8% of the total population employed in the United States, up from 17.9% in December 2007; the number of unemployed workers 55 and over has increased 56.8% in less than a year.
Displacement rates – which measure job losses due to plant closures, the elimination of positions, or other shifts in labor demand – are at the highest level on record for older workers. “Older workers were already more susceptible to displacement in 2007 than their predecessors were 10 or even 20 years ago, and this trend is exacerbated by the recession,” said [the report’s author, EPI researcher Emily] Garr. “More and more older workers are truly between a rock and a hard place. Retirement is not an option, but jobs that they can live on are getting scarcer.”
In addition, while the report finds some evidence suggesting that older workers may be better able than younger counterparts to find or maintain jobs in this recession, data show that employment activity reflects poor financial circumstances or delayed retirement rather than increased job opportunities.

Source: Economic Policy Institute Press Release (February 4, 2009)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Alabama: 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 Alabama, the 29th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Alabama: 2004":
  • 14.2% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.1% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services industry had the highest proportion of or workers 55 and older, with 22.3% or more of its workers in that age group, followed by mining, with 20.6% in that age group; and
  • the state's manufacturing industry employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 20.2% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (January 29, 2009)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

California: 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 California, the 28th state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in California: 2004":
  • 13.3% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.1% were 65 and older;
  • statewide, the educational services 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 13.6% of the workers 55 and older being in that sector.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics What's New (January 26, 2009)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

United Kingdom: Research Suggests Older Workers a Key During Economic Downturn

Research commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council is being used to urge West Midlands employers to take full advantage of the skills and experience of older workers (those aged 50 to 70) during the economic downturn. According to "Labour Market and Training Experiences of Older Workers in the West Midlands ", employers are increasingly aware of the benefits of older job applicants when searching for recruits with personal qualities such as loyalty, experience and reliability. In addition, older workers provide employers with practical advantages such as better retention, fewer training needs, and fewer family and childcare commitments.

Among other findings of the research study:
  • the older people are, the more likely they are to have no qualifications. Nearly 60% of people aged 60 to 64 have no qualifications, a proportion that rises steadily from 26% among those aged between 40 and 44;
  • although most employed older workers had a positive attitude to work, this was balanced by reservations about stress and excessive paperwork;
  • a large proportion of employed participants believed that larger employers offer more advantages to older workers, including clearer progression routes and better policies on issues such as flexible working and job-sharing.
Source: West Midlands Learning and Skills Council Press Release (January 23, 2009)

Friday, January 23, 2009

United Kingdom: Older Workers Facing Higher Layoffs in Recession

According to Age Concern, older workers are experiencing job loss at rates more than twice that of any other group. Citing government statistics that, from September to November‚ unemployment of up to 6 months increased by 29.8% for those aged 50 plus‚ 4.8% for those 25-49‚ 12.2% for 18-24 year-olds‚ and -0.9% for 16-17 year-olds, Age Concern warned that "that older workers are facing a dual blow of rising unemployment and forced retirement‚ which could make them amongst the biggest 'job-cut casualties' of the forthcoming recession."

Older workers were disproportionately affected by job cuts in the last two recessions. In addition, Age Concern research shows this is a huge concern with half of workers aged 55 and over being worried they are more at risk of losing their job because of their age and almost nine out of 10 people thinking it is harder for older jobseekers to get a job. To avoid mistakes made in previous recessions, Gordon Lishman‚ Director General of Age Concern, called on the government to help older people as a group particularly, repeating calls to scrap the default retirement age and seeking more tailored and immediate support‚ training and advice for older workers.

Source: Age Concern News Release (January 21, 2009)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Research: Dissertation Questions Whether Longer Working Life is Good for Everyone

According to a doctoral thesis written by Björn Ohlsson for the Department of Ethnology, University of Gothenburg, following life history interviews with 16 workers aged between 49 and 62 at Volvo's Torslanda plant, a prolonged working life is not seen as desirable by the workers for three main reasons: health issues brought about through long-term physical labour, especially as regards the women, less motivation caused by a sense of subordination, diminished influence and fewer opportunities at work when ageing, and finally the frequent pension scheme offers by the company.

In "We who stayed at Volvo--an ethnological study of senior automobile-industry blue-collar workers' working-lives and future plans" (and see English summary), Ohlsson reveals that things can be particularly tough for certain groups of industrial workers. This is due to the fact that they have had a long and arduous working life, and that changes in the workplace have resulted in diminished opportunities for older people to stay on. While the thesis reports that all of them want to retire before 65, they stress how much work has meant to them, and to some extent, how much it still means. they emphasize in particular the sense of community that exists in a workplace, and the experience of continuity that work provides. In addition, the relatively well paid work has provided them with the opportunity to create a good life materially with a sense of pride and dignity.

See also Arkipelag, which is publishing the thesis.

Source: University of Gothenburg Press Release (January 20, 2009);

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Research Report Assesses Impact of Recession on Older Workers

Looking into the questions about how older workers are faring in the current economy and how their fate relative to younger workers compares to the past, researchers at Boston College have note that while labor force participation among older workers has been rising since the early 1990s, the edge that older workers used to have relative to younger workers when it comes to layoffs seems to have disappeared, so the rise in the unemployment rate for older workers in recessions now looks similar to that for younger workers.

According to "Recessions and Older Workers", authored by Alicia H. Munnell, Dan Muldoon, and Steven A. Sass, as the current recession deepens, the employment rate of older workers could fall well below its level at the peak of the previous expansion. On the other hand, these rates could again rise sharply when the economy recovers.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Issue Brief No. 9-2 (January 2009)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

United States: Unemployment of Older (65 Plus) Workers Increases

According to unemployment statistics from December 2008, the current economic slowdown has substantially increased the unemployment rate for older Americans. In the fact sheet prepared for the Urban Institute, "Senior Unemployment Rate Hits 31-Year High", unlike most previous recessions, Richard W. Johnson points out that 5.1% of workers age 65 and older were unemployed, a higher share than at any time since March 1977.

In the current recession, the age-65-and-older unemployment rate has increased by 1.7 percentage points since November 2007, the last month before it began, while 13 months into the severe 1981–82 recession—-the most recent downturn to have lasted as long as the current one—-the number of unemployed older adults had not increased at all. However, Johnson points out that "the recession has not yet discouraged many older job seekers. Since November 2007, the share of adults not in the labor force has not declined at ages 55 to 64 or at ages 65 and older."

Source: Urban Institute Research Summary (January 14, 2009)

Research: Why is Retirement so Abrupt?

In an Institute of Economic Affairs discussion paper, John S. Heywood and W. Stanley Siebert examine the labour market for older workers and ask why retirement is so abrupt and what can we do about it. They focus on the United Kingdom's employment equality (age) regulations and whether they are likely to help the functioning of the market for older workers.

In "Understanding the Labour Market for Older Workers", the authors determined that the abuptness of retirement is due, historically, to the fact that in most countries it has been difficult to work and receive a pension. Pension rules discourage on-going relationships with existing employers, despite the fact that those employers have already paid the fixed costs associated with hiring and training and it was to those firms that the workers are most valuable. The find, however, that the situation has changed for the better, at least in the UK.

Source: Institute of Economic Affairs Discussion Paper No. 23 Abstract (November 30, 2008)

Research Shows Workplace Benefits of Flu Vaccination of Older Workers

Workers age 50-64 who received influenza vaccine lost substantially fewer days of work and worked fewer days while ill, according to a study published in the February 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases. As reported in "Burden of Influenza-Like Illness and Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccination among Working Adults Aged 50–64 Years", among unvaccinated study participants, influenza-like illnesses were associated with 45% of all days of illness during the flu season, but, with vaccination, a substantial reduction of almost 45% in the risk of illness was observed as well as a reduction of more than 60% in the numbers of days of illness, work loss, working while ill, and days in bed.
According to study author Kristin Nichol, MD, of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, "The implications are that the prevention of influenza-like illnesses can have a huge impact on the health and work productivity of adults 50 to 64, and we should do more to make sure that this high priority group is vaccinated. It is a win-win for the worker with fewer illnesses, days of illness, days in bed, etc. and for the employer with improved worker productivity."
Sources: Infectious Diseases Society of America Public Release (January 13, 2009); Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy "Study finds flu vaccine benefits for older workers" (January 14, 2009)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Canada: Study Finds Current Economic Downturn Will Not Solve Demographic Problems; Governments Must Switch Gears

The current economic slowdown may help ease, but will not stop the coming shortage of
available workers in Nova Scotia, specificially, and in Canada, generally. According to the report "The Developing Workforce Problem: Confronting Canadian Labour Shortages in the Coming Decades" prepared by Dalhousie University Professor Emeritus Dr. Jim McNiven for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), Canada would need "a sustained recession over some 20 years to cope with the demographic crunch we have created for ourselves."

The combination of the baby boom generation aging and hitting traditional retirement age, the decline in birth rates, the failure of immigration to pick up the slack, and stagnant productivity mean that government policy must be overhauled. Programs that helped boomers, such as job creation, employment insurance, and nearly retirement all helped open jobs for the boomers are no longer what is needed. Instead, McNiven suggests a combination of approaches to alleviate the pending crisis:
  • better immigration and child care policies to increase the population;
  • encourage an increase in the productivity rate; and
  • increase the labour force participation rate by reaching out to segments of the population with traditional low rates and encourage people to stay working beyond "Freedom 55."
Sources: Atlantic Institute for Market Studies Media Release (January 7, 2009); Halifax Chronicle Herald "Freedom 85, or why you’ll work forever" (January 10, 2009)

Singapore: Survey Shows Many Boomers Want To Work Past Retirement Age

The "first ever" survey of baby boomers in Singapore finds that boomers want to remain active in their "golden years." According to the Ministry of Community Development and Sports, more than 70% of boomers (those aged 43 to 60) were in the workforce or looking for work, almost half wished to or expected to have to work as long as they could, and, among those who specified an age at which to retire from work, about 30% expected to do so at age 65 or older, beyond the current retirement age of 62.

With respect to continued work, 36% of boomers desired to work part time. In addition, the top three conditions that these boomers look for in post-retirement work were flexible work, similar income, and fewer hours of work. For university-educated boomers, a stimulating workplace and the chance to guide or mentor younger workers were more important attributes than income continuity and work hours.

Sources: Ministry of Community Development and Sports Press Release (January 9, 2009); Channel News Asia "Survey shows 3 in 10 expect to retire at age 65 or older" (January 9, 2009)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Singapore: Prime Minister Reenforces Need for Employers to Retain Older Workers

Addressing the AARP-Council for Third Age Conference "Reinventing Retirement Asia", Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged employers to let seniors work longer, focusing on legislation that will require employers to offer re-employment to workers for three more years (until 65), though not necessarily at the same job or pay. According to Lee, "[t]he best way for people to adjust to longer lifespans is to continue working for as long as they can, and to keep themselves occupied after formal retirement."

With respect to retirement age, Lee said that government has only limited abilities to change habits. Thus, even though Singapore's official retirement age is 62, only six out of every ten men are still working at 62, the rest having already retired earlier, while even fewer women work till 62, most having dropped out of the workforce much earlier to raise their families. Accordingly, Singapore is not legislating to further delay the retirement age, but to require employers to offer re-employment to workers at 62 for another three years until 65, though not necessarily in the same job or at the same pay. Other efforts may be more involved:
We can also do more to raise the employment rate of older women. It is often tough for women to continue working while raising a family, even if the husband carries his share of the household responsibilities. We can help by adopting more flexible work arrange¬ments, developing family-friendly workplace policies, and providing accessible and affordable childcare. We should also encourage older women to return to the workforce, through targeted outreach and retraining.
Source: Prime Minister's Office Speech (January 8, 2009)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Australia: Economic Conditions Forcing Older Workers to Defer Retirement

According to news reports, research conducted by Rice Warner indicates that deteriorating financial conditions will force 40,000 retirees in Australia to defer retirement and move into part-time work and others who retired since 2007 will return to the workforce.

Writing in The Australian, Adele Ferguson also says that "seniors groups believe the deterioration in retirement savings over the past year will force the Rudd Government to scale back the way it calculates earnings on retirees' investments."

Sources: Smart Company "40,000 retirees to shelve retirement plans – here’s how you can benefit" (January 5, 2009); The Australian "40,000 retirees forced to keep working because of economic downturn" (January 3, 2009)