Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jobs for Oldsters

Too many of us oldsters haven't saved enough money to be able to fully enjoy our retirement years.

On top of that, our homes represent our biggest investment, and home values have fallen the past several years.

So for many oldsters, on top of a lack of adequate lifetime savings, home values have gone down from the prices at which the homes were bought, with the only question being just how far down.

As a result, many would-have-been-retirees-by-now are still working, and therein perhaps lies some good news. Perhaps surprisingly, there are likely to be good jobs available to older workers in the future.

Let's look at that potential future now.

For Older Workers, Here Is Where the Jobs Will be is subtitled 'As attitudes change, promising fields include health care and education:

"Growing numbers of older adults are finding a nice surprise in the workplace: a "Welcome" sign.

The number of workers age 55 and up grew by 3.5 million from September 2009 to September 2012. That represents the lion's share of the gain of 4.2 million for all workers 16 and older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two factors help explain the trend.

First: demographics. In the three years ended in July, 86% of population growth among people ages 25 to 69 came in the 55 to 69 age range . . . . That increase comes mostly from the baby boomers, who began turning 55 in 2001. There are many more Americans turning 55 in recent years than turning 25 ....

Second: changing attitudes. More employers are recognizing that older adults bring skills and experiences to the table that can help the bottom line.

It's not all good news. While older workers' unemployment rate is lower, when they lose a job they're unemployed longer—a median of 35 weeks versus 26 weeks for younger folks.

"The problem of age bias hasn't been solved yet, but attitudes do seem to be improving," says Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser with the Public Policy Institute at AARP, the Washington advocacy group.

Here are several industries where experts say the outlook is bright for older workers:


School reform at the K-12 level, in particular, may provide opportunities for older workers, says Jackie Greaner, North America practice leader for talent management at consulting firm Towers Watson .

"Expectations of teachers are much higher," she says, "but in a way that provides opportunities for other talent to enter the school system—[individuals with] other types of skills and knowledge."

Financial Services

"Banks and insurance companies have been forward-thinking about . . . the aging workforce and what that means for their organizations," says . . . Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging and Work.

"They've been trying to offer more possibilities to older workers to work more flexibly, to reduce their hours when they decide that's what they want to do". . .

Health Care

Health-care companies are grappling with a shortage of workers and are reaching out to employees age 55-plus.

"There's a huge need for people who can take care of all the different facets of health-care delivery, from the greeter at the door of the hospital to the person who processes accounts payable, and of course doctors, nurses and health technicians," . . . .

Professional Services and Knowledge Workers

In the world of consulting, "it can be a plus to have experience," says Ms. Greaner of Towers Watson. "There's not really a stigma about being older."

The same is true for other knowledge-worker jobs. For example, "the nuclear-power industry is an industry that is very hard to get people that are fully developed in terms of skill sets and capabilities," Ms. Greaner says. For employers, "it's very difficult to get that expertise."

Aon Hewitt's Ms. Peterson says talented recruiters can be hard to find. "I find people who have a lot of life experience and professional experience make the best recruiters.""

Summing Up

In the future, lots of oldsters and near oldsters who haven't saved enough for retirement will need to choose one of three basic alternatives concerning retirement: (1) accept reduced retirement benefits and a much lower standard of living during retirement; (2) save more and invest longer during the remaining working years; and/or (3) be willing to work several more "unplanned" years before finally retiring.

Otherwise, in order for We the People to be able to pay for all these promised entitlements down the road, it's definitely going to require much higher taxes and all that entails, resulting in a future America of foregone prosperity, security  and opportunity. My view is that we oldsters must not let this be our legacy to future generations of Americans.

The longer we oldsters are ready, able and willing to pitch in and work, the more prosperous our economy will become and the better future we'll leave behind for future generations of Americans to enjoy.

Now here's the crux of the matter.

Labor force participation rates are simply far too low today, and when the economy recovers, we'll need to reshape the U.S. work force to enable all who want to work and are able to do so, old and young alike, find meaningful employment opportunities.

That will grow our nation's output and tax revenues, too.

It will also serve to reduce entitlement and redistribution payments as both older and younger people have meaningful employment, pay taxes and spend a good portion of their earnings on goods and services that in turn will require more production output.

We'll be able to turn the current vicious cycle into a future virtuous one, in other words.

And the private sector's aggressive entrepreneurial leadership combined with the patriotic oldster "volunteers" will make all this possible, given half a chance.

At least that's my view.

Thanks. Bob.

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