Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Insurers Report Little Difference in Worker's Compensation Experience Among Worrkers 35 to 64

According to published reports, Research from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) suggests that there are little cost differences in the workers' compensation system among workers after the age of 35, up through 64. In a presentation to NCCI's Annual Issues Symposium in Orlando, Harry Shuford, NCCI's chief economist is quoted as saying: "Whatever impact on claim costs baby boomers will have, it's already in the workers' comp system. So there is no more stress on the system."
Looking at the leading types of injuries for those in the 20 to 34 year age group compared to those between the ages of 45 and 64 shows some marked differences.

For example, the top claim diagnosis for lost time claims in the older age group is sprain/rotator cuff, something that doesn't appear at all in the top 10 list of diagnoses for the younger workers. Knees are another source of injury for older workers, with torn medial cartilage/meniscus of knee the fourth top diagnosis for older workers, but not showing up in the list for younger workers, who suffered more back injuries and ankle sprains.
Harry Shuford's slides from his presentation are available online at: "More Older Workers: Workers Compensation and an Aging Workforce."

Source: Risk & Insurance "NCCI: Baby boomers pose little additional concern for comp system" (May 31, 2011)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

United Kingdom: London Employers Unprepared for Abolition of Mandatory Retirement

A survey conducted by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Penningtons Solicitors LLP shows that 57% of London employers are not prepared for and 26% do not know about the 2011 abolition of the default retirement age (DRA). According to "Tackling the age-old problem of retirement, The Penningtons/LCCI survey of London employers on the changes to the default retirement age (DRA)," less than half--43%--of the employers consider themselves to be either quite well or very well prepared.

Other findings of the survey show that 78% think that workers should be retained on their ability rather than their age, 68% agree that the UK's employment legal framework needs to be modernized, 56% are concerned that older employees may refuse to retire even when they cannot perform their job effectively, and 54% are concerned about the lack of clarity about how to legitimately retire employees.

The report also includes a six-point plan to help employers minimize the risks of being on the wrong end of employment-related legal claims. Included in the plan are five best practice points together with advice on how to achieve a fair dismissal on capability grounds: (1) promoting more positive procedural terminology, (2) educating managers to respond to older workers' needs, (3) turning the annual appraisal system into a 365 day rolling program, (4) encouraging mentoring roles for older workers, and (5) building a workplace culture of transparency and clear communication.

Source: Penningtons Solicitors LLP News Release (May 26, 2011)

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Zealand: Research on Employer Preparedness; Calls for Public Employment Changes

New Zealand's Victoria University's announcement of a PhD dissertation showing that many organizations are under prepared for the loss of valuable knowledge as the oldest members of the baby boomer generation near retirement has led to calls for government employers to introduce more flexible working conditions so older workers can be retained in the state sector workforce.

First, the research: Dr. Carmel Joe's research suggests that few organizations have systems for identifying older experts or retaining their expertise after they retire. As part of her work, Dr. Joe created a model that organizations can use to identify the knowledge held by older experts and integrate it in to their knowledge retention processes. According to Dr. Joe:
Some aspects of a job can be documented but not everything. When I asked people what they would do if an expert in their team disappeared tomorrow, most replied that they'd have all the materials that person had generated but not the added element of the tacit knowledge they hold in their head.

Experts become very attuned and intuitive about what to do and what not to do but it's knowledge that is hard to define or write down. They also have a lot of referential knowledge—they know where to go to find things out.
One response to the research has come from Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott who wants measures introduced that would allow older members of the workforce to work part-time. According to a news story written by Tim Donoghue, Plilott said:
The idea of more flexible arrangements to retain older workers and their expertise is something the public service wrestles with ... there needs to be more flexibility in terms of number of hours worked by older workers.
Sources: Victoria University News Release (May 18, 2011); "Older workers 'need more flexible hours' " (May 21, 2011)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

North Carolina: Annual Workforce Report Looks at Recession Impact and Takes Note of Aging Workforce

North Carolina has issued a report on its workforce showing that the recession accelerated the state's shift from a traditional, manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Among other things, the report notes that while the recession slowed baby-boomer retirements, the impact is likely to be felt first and greatest in small cities and rural areas where more workers are near-retirement age.

According to "The State of the N.C. Workforce 2011-2020," while North Carolina’s age distribution is similar to that of the United States as a whole, the state’s micropolitan and rural areas have a higher proportion of older adults than their metropolitan peers, with the prime working age (ages 20 to 54) cohort in rural counties comprises almost a 5.5% smaller share of the total population than in metropolitan counties. In addition, across the state, retirees (over age 65) comprise 12.8% of the total population, but in rural counties that share jumps to 16.8%, and the proportion of pre-retirees (55-64) is also higher in rural areas.

In looking at particular industries, the report notes that one of the biggest challenges the state’s energy firms face is a rapidly aging workforce. "For instance, Duke Energy indicates that more than half of its 17,000 employees in the greater Charlotte area are eligible to retire in the next decade."

Among the reports recommendations is that North Carolina encourage "employers and communities to adapt to the potential impact of large-scale retirements by helping older workers remain in the workforce, continue learning, and mentor other workers while also helping companies develop appropriate success plans, especially for key

Sources: North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development "2011 State of the N.C. Workforce Report"; Charlotte Business Journal "N.C. workers need to adapt to work-force challenges" (May 25, 2011)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Study: Boomers Show Fear of Retirement Planning

According to a white paper issued by Financial Engines, retirees and near-retirees feel uncertain about the future, fearful of poverty, and are not confident in their investing abilities. Specifically, "Understanding the Accidental Investor: Baby Boomers on Retirement" reports on interviews with over 300 baby boomers and finds that more than half expressed some form of uncertainty in what the future may bring, nearly half had a fear of poverty in retirement and were distrustful of the motivations or qualifications of financial services and insurance firms, and more than a third said that they did not feel confident or knowledgeable when it came to making important financial decisions.

The most frequently observed behaviors seen among the participants were:
Paralysis. Regardless of the primary emotion, the most common resulting behavior was ubiquitous across participants: to do nothing. While some were paralyzed with fear and uncertainty, others were prevented from taking action by confusion or not knowing whom to trust.
Avoidance. When faced with fear of unpleasant or difficult news, some participants said that they preferred not to know how bad the situation was rather than face the facts. Others said that they wanted to avoid spending their 401(k) assets altogether to give them something to fall back on if something unexpected came up.
Misplaced Trust. Given their distrust of the financial services and insurance industries and lack of confidence in their own financial knowledge, participants often turned to a friend or family member—qualified or not—for retirement advice.
Understanding the Accidental Investor | 4
Magical Thinking. Many participants resorted to magical thinking, telling themselves that everything would work out in the end, or that they could continue working indefinitely without having to adjust their standard of living.
Sources: Financial Engines Press Release (May 23, 2011); The Baltimore Sun "Fear, distrust prevent older boomers from making retirement decisions" (May 23, 2011)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AARP: Survey Show Depth of Recession's Effect on Older Workers

An AARP survey shows that older Americans, whether working or not, are emerging from the recent recession worried about their financial future and taking actions to rebuild some measure of retirement security. According to "Recovering from the Great Recession: Long Struggle Ahead for Older Americans", published by the AARP Public Policy Institute, 24.7% of those 50 and over surveyed reported exhausting all savings during the recession, and 36.4% who had difficulty making ends meet stopped or cut back on saving for retirement. To recover some financial stability, 44.1% said they would likely work part-time in retirement, and 33.4% said that they planned to delay retirement.
“This unprecedented economic recession has left a legacy of low confidence, lower savings and the lowest employment rates in decades,” concluded [John Rother, AARP’s Executive Vice President for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs]. “While we are hopeful about improving economic conditions, this survey reminds us that older Americans will feel the effects of the recession for years to come.”
Source: AARP News Release (May 24, 2011)

Check out discussion on Huffington Post blog report on the AARP survey.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conference Board Issues Report on U.S. Workers Increasingly Delaying Retirement

According to the Conference Board, the recession has put even greater pressure on U.S. workers to stay on the job, a trend that had started in the mid-1990s. The Conference Board report--"U.S. Workers Delaying Retirement What Businesses Can Learn from the Trends of Who, Where, and Why"--notes that these trends can vary according to industry:
[W]e see that delayed retirement has been more prevalent for some occupations and industries. For example, the healthcare industry experienced the largest decline in retirement rates in recent years. Jobs in this field are also in great demand. On the other hand, there was almost no retirement delay among government workers, who are more likely to receive defined benefit pension plans.
Gad Levanon, Associate Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board, and author of the report, says that "[d]elayed retirement allows households to consume more today and reduce the probability of a prolonged slowdown in the U.S. economy, and enables households to reach retirement with more financial resources."

Among other things brought out by the report that can help businesses develop a better workforce strategy, is that delayed retirement provides relief for several more years in industries that will suffer significant "brain drain" from baby boomers leaving. However, for companies looking to reduce headcount, slash labor costs, hire new workers or promote younger workers, delayed retirement could be viewed as a negative development.

Source: Conference Board Press Release (May 19, 2011)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book: "RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50"

Julia Moulden, a Toronto-based author, career coach, speaker and Huffington Post columnist, has published RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50,a guide to help people transition into what she describes as "the next, best phase of your career."

In her book, Moulden identifies six major reasons people decide to “ripen,” from those who are looking for a new challenge in their fifties, to empty-nesters, to people who’ve retired and are miserable. As stated in the Financial Post,
In any case, most boomers can’t afford full retirement, Moulden says, though she says they shouldn’t be lumped in one category when it comes to their financial resources. She cited an RBC survey that found four in ten boomers are still carrying a large amount of debt — often in the form of mortgages on their homes. “A lot of people are continuing on for financial reasons,” she said in an interview, “It depends on who you are and your life circumstances.”
Moulden maps out a 12-week process people can use to find their way into this new phase of their careers.

Sources: Financial Post "Older workers have much to offer, experts say" (May 19, 2011); Financial Post "Boomers ripe for non-traditional retirement" (April 14, 2011); Harvard Business Review Blog "The Value of People Over 50" (January 18, 2011)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Study: American Workers Unprepared for Retirement

According to a study issued by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, a significant number of Americans plan to never retire, yet are unprepared if the choice is made for them. Specifically, 40% expect to work longer and retire at an older age since the recession began: 39% plan to retire after age 70 or not at all, and 54% plan to work in retirement. As for preparedeness, 70% agree they could work until age 65 and still not have enough money saved to meet their retirement needs.
“With all of life’s uncertainties, planning not to retire is simply not a viable retirement strategy,” says Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. “Planning to work past age 65 is an important opportunity to continue earning income, save more, and help to alleviate a retirement savings shortfall; however, it’s important that workers be proactive in setting a retirement savings goal, saving and investing for retirement, and having a backup plan if they are forced to retire sooner than expected.”
Among other findings:
  • Of those who plan on working after retirement or age 65, the most commonly cited reasons are out of necessity (44%).
  • 82% do not have, or is unsure if they have, a backup plan in place in the event they cannot work as long as they need to, and that rate is even higher among those who plan to work past age 70 or never retire (87%).
Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies Press Release (May 17, 2011)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

South Korea: 50+ Now Account for One-Third of Workforce

News reports state that, according to Statistics Korea, the number of workers in South Korea over 50 grew to more than 8 million for the first time in April, amounting to approximately one-third of the workforce. This amounts to an 11% increase from the previous year and about two-fold increase from 20 years ago.

Ten years ago, people in their 30's accounted for 28.6% of the workforce, followed by those in their 40's (25.8%), 20's (20.7%), 50's (13.7%), and those over 60 (9.6%). The current figures have those in their 40's following the 50 plus at 27.3%, followed by those in their 30's (23.9%), 50's (20.9%), and 20's (15%).

Sources: Arirang "Korea's Workforce is Getting Older" (May 12, 2011); Chosunilbo "One-Third of Workers Are Over 50" (May 13, 2011)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Australia: Government Establishes Panel on Economic Potential of Older Australians

The Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced the establishment of an Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians to ensure the potential of the older members of our community is considered in a range of policy debates.

To be chaired by Everald Compton, who also chairs the existing Consultative Forum on Mature Age Employment that advises the government on what drives mature-age employment, the new panel will, among other things, examine how businesses and policy makers can assist senior Australians in their transition from the workforce into other valuable endeavors, such as supporting their families, mentoring, volunteering and community work.

In a speech announcing the panel, Swan said that "[e]nhancing mature participation is simply one of the most important issues facing our economy today." While it is important to continue recognizing the skills of older workers, encouraging further skill development, promoting healthy workplaces that support mature age workers, promoting age management in the workplace, allowing workers to make a phased transition to retirement, and ensuring that retirement income policies provide the right incentives, the new panel is "to look beyond the usual story of an ageing population and help us look to new ways to embrace the opportunities that much larger, and more active, communities of older Australians "

Sources: Australian Office of Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Press Release (March 30, 2011); Sydney Morning Herald "New panel to advise govt on seniors" (March 29, 2011)

Germany: Government Targeting Older Workers, Others, To Fill Jobs Gap

According to press reports, the German government (eight ministries and the Chancellery) has drawn up a 27-page paper that (a) acknowledged that around 6.5 million fewer people will be available to work by 2025 due to an ageing population and low birth rates, and (b) rather than looking across the German borders for fresh blood, focuses the government's attention on women who gave up paid work to bring up their children, and older people.

With respect to older workers, The Local reports that the following from the government paper:
Older people and those without work are also being considered. The raising of statutory retirement age from 65 to 67 will increase the numbers of workers by a million by 2025, while the intention is also to encourage more people older than 55 to work. Currently only 56 percent of people over 55 work – should that increase to 70 percent as is the case in Sweden, it would add a further million people to the workforce.
Sources: TheLocal "Mothers and over-55s called back to work" (May 11, 2011); Süddeutsche Zeitung "Mütter, Alte und Arbeitslose: Ran an die Arbeit!" (May 11, 2011)

Friday, May 06, 2011

New Zealand: Aging Workforce Report Highlights Importance of Older Worker

New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development has released a report finding that, over the next 40 years, more older people will participate in the paid workforce, the economic value of older people’s paid, unpaid and voluntary work will increase, older people’s contribution to tax revenue will increase, and older people will spend more.

While covering many economic issues, with respect to employment, "The Business of Ageing: Realising the economic potential of older people in New Zealand: 2011–2051" finds that 7-10% of the total labor force will be 65 and over by 2051, up from 3-4% currently. Among the likely effects of population aging on the labor market are that:
• a sizeable proportion of the workforce will be older, creating opportunities for workplace adaptation and job mobility
• New Zealand have an opportunity to redefine outdated concepts of sudden retirement
• employers will want continued access to the increasingly hard-to-replace skills of older workers who, in turn, have more interest in continuing to work than previous generations
• succession planning will be vital to ensure valuable knowledge and skills aren’t lost as baby boomers leave the workforce
• the growth of the total workforce will slow, making New Zealand’s economic growth more dependent on productivity improvements
New Zealand can prepare for the demographic shift and associated rising government expenditure by improving work opportunities for older people. Specifically, the report suggests that there are three key areas where participation of an older workforce could be enhanced: (1) commitment to renewing human capital, for example, upskilling, (2) new technological adaptations for work environments, for example, ergonomic design for improved health and labour savings, and (3) optimal work practices and arrangements such as flexible work arrangements and mentoring of younger workers.

Sources: Ministry of Social Development Research Report ; New Zealand Herald "NZ needs working boomers" (May 29, 2011)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Minnesota: A Look at Unemployment Among the 55 Plus

Writing for Minnesota Public Radio's Minnesota Economy blog, Paul Tosto has published charts from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) showing that Minnesotans 55 and older have seen unemployment among their peers double since 2007. In addition to the raw numbers doubling, Tosto notes that unemployment rates that were averaging just 1.8% in 2005 for those 55 to 64 rose to 6.1% in 2010.

Separately, Tosto has published a table from DEED showing the industries with the most 55+ workers, with mining leading the way with 27.4% of the workforce 55 and older, followed by educational services with 26.2%. Of workers 65 and over, "other services" led with 5.9% of its workforce of that age, followed by the transportation and warehousing industry and the real estate industry at 5.7% each.

Sources: MinnEcon "55+ unemployment doubled since Great Recession" (May 2, 2011); "Where do age 55+ Minnesotans work?" (May 3, 2011)

Netherlands: Cabinet Endorses Proposal To Raise Retirement Age

According to news sources, the proposal of Netherlands' social affairs minister Henk Kamp to raise the official retirement age for the state pension from 65 to 66 in 2020 has been endorsed by the Dutch cabinet, so the proposal can now be submitted to parliament.

The impetus for the move is Holland's aging population and increased longevity. Current government population projections indicate that the present ratio of four workers for each pensioner in the Netherlands is expected to decline to two workers for each pensioner by 2040.

Sources: Investment & Pensions Europe "Dutch Cabinet supports raising state pension age to 66" (May 3, 2011); TAEN "Dutch Government Moves to Raise State Pension Age" (May 5, 2011)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Australia: Report Finds Age Discrimination Still a Concern and Calls for More Protection

Even though 2004 Austrlian age discrimination laws were meant to help older workers, a report issued by National Seniors Australia finds that the law leads often to nimble side-stepping--compliance with the letter rather than the spirit of the law. In addition to showing how age discrimination is more often covert and notoriously difficult to prove, "The Elephant in the Room: Age Discrimination in Employment" calls on policy makers to:
  1. examine the issue of "disguised discrimination' and strengthen the relevant anti-discrimination legislation to reduce the likelihood of covert discrimination;
  2. ensure individuals can make their own work or retirement choices in the light of their own health, aspirations, financial status and family situations; and
  3. promote greater awareness by employees of their rights to complain about age discrimination.
In releasing the report, National Seniors chief executive, Michael O’Neill said:
With the age discrimination laws in place, employers are now much more sophisticated in how they exclude older workers. For example they may use recruitment agencies to screen applicants, employ code terms such as “overqualified” or frame advertisements denoting youth.
Sources: National Seniors Australia Press Release (April 30, 2011); 774 ABC Melbourne Chat with Age Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick (May 4, 2011)