Thursday, July 21, 2011

Canada Gets High Marks for Responding to Aging Workforce

According to a new research report by Schroders, Canada has been facing up to the economic challenges of an aging population, but will still need to do more. The authors--Virginie Maisonneuve, Head of Global Equities at Schroders, and Katherine Davidson--conclude that Canada has been quick to recognize its impending demographic transition and adjust its institutions accordingly. The only ways to break the relationship between reduced labor supply as baby boomers retire and lower GDP growth is "to increase immigration or raise participation rates, especially of older workers" and Canada is doing just that.

The report says, however, that future growth will have to be driven by improvements in labor productivity and Canada is expected to face the highest age-related spending of any OECD member state. Here, too, Canada looks to be in good shape, with a strong record in controlling costs. For example, it spends 10% of GDP on health care versus the US at 16%, and it relies less on the state for pension provision with private pensions and other investments providing over 40% of retirement income, compared to the OECD average of 20%.

Source: PR Newswire News Release (July 21, 2011)

Massachusetts: Two Reports Focus on Rise in Older Worker Population and on Retaining Older Workers

Commonwealth Corporation released two new reports focusing on the aging population in Massachusetts, its effect on the labor supply, and strategies for retaining older workers. Among other things, according to the reports, by 2020, almost 27% of Massachusetts workers will be age 55 or older, Already some industries have a high percentage of older workers--in education and health services, almost a quarter of employees are 55 or older, and in repair, maintenance and personal services, the number is 28.2%.

One report--“The Increased Presence of Older Workers in the Massachusetts Labor Market”--provides an overview of trends in the labor force among the nation's older population and presents more recent labor market outcomes of older workers in the nation and in Massachusetts. This report also examines the industries and occupations in which older workers in Massachusetts are employed and the change across the different industries/occupations.

The other report--“Retaining Older Workers”--summarizes the projects that participated in Commonwealth Corporation's Older Worker Retention Strategies Grants funded by the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and presents findings and lessons learned from the pilot projects.

The reports are joint projects of Commonwealth Corporation and the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University and Community Matters, respectively.

Sources: Commonwealth Corporation News Release (July 20, 2011); Boston Globe "A jobs pinch for the ages" (July 21, 2011)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

United Kingdom: TUC Report Finds Improved Job Market for Older Workers and Retirees Since 1992

A report issued by the UK Trades Union Congress (TCU) finds that the years since 1992 have seen a significant increase in the proportion of over-50s and people over retirement age in employment. According to "Age and Gender: What has changed in the labour market in recent years," among other things, the percentage of people aged between 50 and 64 in work has risen from 56.5% in April 1992 to 64.9% in December 2010, and, over the same period, the proportion of those aged over 64 in work rose from 5.5% to 9%.

While the report also reveals that young people have become less likely to be in employment over the same period, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said that "It is a mistake to blame older workers for youth unemployment--they tend not to be doing the jobs young unemployed people might expect to get." Barber also said:
'Older people bring a wealth of skills and experience to the workplace. The increasing number of over 65s in work shows that older workers are highly valued and that the government is absolutely right to scrap the default retirement age.

'But there is a darker side to people to working beyond their retirement. Low wages and poor pension provision, particularly in the private sector, mean that many people simply cannot afford to retire at 65. The failure of far too many employers to help staff save for their retirement is forcing these people into pensioner poverty and placing a huge cost burden on the state.
Source: Trades Union Congress Press Release (July 13, 2011);

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Survey Finds Boomers Preparing To Work in Retirement

A survey conducted by SunAmerica Financial Group in collaboration with Age Wave reports that more Americans are expecting to retire later and work throughout it. The "SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set Study" found a significant shift in attitudes and actions since 2001, when SunAmerica conducted its initial landmark retirement study with Age Wave. In particular, it reports that:
  • 54% of people 55 and older view retirement as a new chapter in life, rather than a winding down—-up from the 38% that held a similar in 2001
  • pre-retirees say they now intend to delay retirement by five years—-from 64 to 69
  • almost two-thirds of those surveyed say they would ideally like to remain productive and include some work in retirement to stay active and involved
Source: SunAmerica Financial Group Press Release (July 12, 2011)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Europe: Aging Population Requires Making Full Use of Available Employment Potential

Speaking at an informal meeting of the ministers for labor and social affairs, Leila Kurki, president of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship of the European Economic and Social Committee, said that "future pension funding needs will not be determined by the demographic ratio (ratio of older people to people of working age)" but that "the decisive factor is rather trends in the economic dependency ratio, or in the ratio of people receiving benefits to people in employment.” Thus, governments should focus on effectively increasing labor market participation rate of people of working age rather than focusing on making changes to pension systems, tightening pension conditions, weakening pension rights or raising the statutory retirement age.
“Jobs must be designed so that people are able to work at least up to the statutory retirement age.” Kurki pointed out that this would entail radical changes in working life.

Work and management would have to be organised in a way that accommodated ageing at every stage of a person’s career. Working conditions and the working environment must be adapted to suit workers of different ages. Discrimination and negative value judgments against older workers must be combated.

Updating of professional skills and preventive healthcare were of key importance.
Source: European Economic and Social Committee Press Release (July 7, 2011)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Israel Debates Raising Retirement Age for Women

Although not yet officially released, Israel's Finance Ministry Committee on Female Retirement Age is expected to recommend raising the retirement age for women from 62 to 67, and not to 64, to the same as men, and opposition is coming from many quarters. According to an article in Haaretz, there is widespread opposition in the Knesset, which must approve any changes. In addition, both Talia Livni, president of the Na'amat women's organization, and a representative of the Histadrut labor federation, quit the public committee after the issue turned to raising the age to 67 instead of the original 64 when the the committee was appointed.

An editorial in the Jerusalem Post acknowledges that, since improved medicine and higher living standards are leading to rising life expectancies and an increasingly older population, the recommendation sounds reasonable enough. However, it stated that before the retirement age is raised for women, steps should be taken to ensure more women enter the work force and stay employed longer. Among other things, the Post noted that just 62.2% of women aged 55 to 59, and 6.5% of women aged 65 or older, participated in the job market in 2009, compared to 76.7% and 17.8%, respectively, of men.
Unlike in Europe, where dwindling birth rates, combined with higher life expectancy, has resulted in an increasingly older population, Israel’s balance between young and old is even. Israelis over the age of 65 make up just 9.8% of the population, compared to an OECD average of 14.6%. As a result, the need to raise the retirement age is less pressing here.

We are, nevertheless, outpacing the OECD in the speed at which we are raising the retirement age for women. The average retirement age for women in OECD countries will reach 64 after 2030. If the Treasury has its way, this will happen here in 2017.
Sources: Haaretz (July 1, 2011); Jerusalem Post "A fairer retirement for the fairer sex" (July 5, 2011)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Multi-generational Workplace: Managing the Technology Gap

CIO Inisght has published a series of articles showing employers how, through a combination of policies, programs and tools, it’s possible to bridge the technology generation gap and engage all employees and build a robust and motivated workforce. In them, Samuel Greengard notes that attitudes across generations differ greatly, and cites an Accenture technology strategist saying younger workers are thumbing their noses at IT policies, using nonstandard applications and "improving" things whenever and wherever they deem it necessary.

Greengard's recommendations for organizations to address multi-generational challenges are:
  1. Develop a well-reasoned and balanced technology policy and ensure that employees read and understand it.
  2. Provide training to workers--particularly older employees who may be well-versed in using email and Web tools, but are lagging in areas such as social media and crowdsourcing.
  3. Rethink security and threat management. In this regard, forward looking organizations focus heavily on endpoint security and a more holistic protection model.
In addition, separate articles present:Source: CIO Insight "Managing a Multigenerational Workforce" (June 30, 2011)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

United Kingdom: Survey Shows Unemployment, Hiring Issues for Workers 55 Plus

A survey released by Aviva shows that 39% of over-55s have experienced redundancy, enforced early retirement or stopped work due to illness in the run up to retirement, and that 74% say it is harder to find work after their 55th birthday. Breaking down the numbers, "The Aviva Real Retirement Report: Issue Six" reports that Indeed, 15% report being made redundant, 11% were forced to stop work due to illness, and 11% were forced into early retirement.

In reaction to their financial difficulties, 68% of the over-55s said it has had a detrimental effect on their retirement finances, with 34% having to cut back on their lifestyle, 7% worrying about how to pay an outstanding mortgage and 11% considering using assets such as their house to pay for retirement. Nevertheless, the report says that 5% of over-55s saw the "count-down" to retirement as the opportunity to choose to move to "part-tirement" and 3% to start their own business.

In a story following up on the Aviva report, Jo Thornhill writes in This is Money that "The pensions crisis means over-55s will need a 'patchwork' of roles to boost retirement income". This would be a patchwork of part-time work, consultancy, self-employment and leisure time.

Source: Aviva News Release (June 29, 2011)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

GAO Issues Report on How To Ensure Income Throughout Retirement

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), at the request of Sen. Herb Kohl, the chairman of the Special Senate Committee on Aging, has studied and released a report on how best to ensure income throughout retirement, finding that found that while most retirees rely primarily on Social Security, most Americans fail to maximize their benefits.

The report--"Retirement Income: Ensuring Income throughout Retirement Requires Difficult Choices"--finds, among other things, that around 72.8% took benefits before age 65, and only 14.1% took benefits the month they reached full retirement age, noting that, by taking the benefits on or before their 63rd birthday, 49.5% passed up at least 25% to 335 in additional monthly inflation-adjusted benefits that would have been available had they waited until full retirement age.
“As workers near retirement they not only have to focus on saving money but on closely managing their investment throughout their retirement years,” Kohl said. “This report shows that many Americans will need to save much more or work longer in order to avoid the very real risk of outliving their savings.”
Among the report's recommendations:
  • Many retirees should delay taking Social Security to increase payments for life.
  • Depending on net worth, households also should consider buying a life annuity, particularly if they don't have a traditional pension that guarantees sufficient income.
  • Retirees should make withdrawals from their investment portfolio at a rate of no more than 3% to 6% annually at retirement, with adjustments for inflation, to help ensure they won't run out of money.
Source: U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging News Release (July 1, 2011)

Friday, July 01, 2011

China: Workforce Potential To Decline Due to Aging Population

China's workforce population is at a turning point because of an aging population, according to an Allianz Group. Drawing on latest census, it says that China has a population of around 1.34 billion people, though population growth has nearly halved in the past decade compared to the decade before, and that population aging increased further not least due to the fact that according to estimates some 400 million fewer children were born as a result of the one-child policy introduced in 1978.
"Even if the one-child policy were relaxed or lifted, the decline in the workforce potential could be alleviated but no longer prevented," says Professor Michael Heise, Chief Economist and Head of Corporate Development at Allianz. The turning point for China's labor market will be reached in 2013, according to findings from the recent Allianz Demographic Pulse.
According to Allianz, it is important for China to establish a demographically sustainable social system as a matter of urgency in which capital-funded private provisions play a key role. Among other things, this could include increasing the retirement age to 65 years, thus delaying the demographic turning point by another three years and significantly lowering the age ratio in the long term.

Source: Allianz Group Allianz Demographic Pulse (July 1, 2011)