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)