Employment of Older Workers in a Recession

The Wall Street Journal reports today that more older persons are remaining in the job market and are seeking work in this recession than in previous ones. (WSJ, February 23, 2009.)
Keep in mind that retirement is a phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century. Many older persons are finding out that there is no retirement in the 21st century. Their investments are down in value and those who retired with just enough money are finding that just enough is not enough for these times.
Employment until disability or death is the historical norm. For the next few years, work will be considered an important piece of retirement. Many older Americans choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age for reasons of finances, work/professional connections, and social links. As we struggle through this recession many older Americans will have to work beyond retirement age because they don’t have enough savings and retirement income to live on.
They are competing against younger workers and age discrimination is rampant. But in the coming years, we can expect the workplace to more multi-generational than in the past few decades. Although age bias will not disappear, the changing age structure of the American society means that there will be fewer younger workers available. So, in certain employment fields, older workers will be prized. Good news for those older persons seeking jobs now. They will benefit from a shortage of workers available to fill positions.
The recession also may generate more flexible options for older workers such as phased retirement, part-time work and seasonal work. Until the economy turns again, these more limited options may be more attractive to struggling firms and may be more suited to older workers. For maximum success in using the American workforce, companies will solicit and support older workers. With older workers in receipt of basic health care through Medicare, we may see increasing amounts of part-time opportunities so firms can save on health care costs.
Not all older persons will be able to work. Those with experience in physically and mentally demanding positions may not be able to continue. And in industries with extensive technological change, there may by a tendency on the part of older workers to retire rather than learn a new skill set. Jobs with substantial physical demands also may be perceived by older workers as too difficult. And, if the older worker develops a disability of any kind they may consider retirement as a preferable option to continued employment even with the reduced income. But the most important factor is money, or the availability of resources and income that can support the individual when they retire. As the stock market plunge eats into savings and rates of return, older person will once again, of necessity, forego retirement.
Website Resources:
AARP has a section on its site for older workers and job seekers. http://www.aarp.org/bulletin/yourlife/0905_sidebar_2.html
Quintessential Careers is a site that offers much information for older job seekers: http://www.quintcareers.com/mature_jobseekers.html

Revealing a Secret: The Aging Network

I love secrets – especially when I’m one of the ones in the know. But this secret needs to be shared. There is a nationwide network of places to go to help you find services for your older friends and relatives. It’s called the Aging Network and it was set up under a law called the Older Americans Act, first passed in 1965. The Older Americans Act established an agency for older persons at each level of government in the U.S.
At the Federal level, the Administration on Aging’s role is to coordinate programs for older persons among the agencies in Washington and to lead the rest of the aging network in helping society assist older persons.
At the state level, each state has a State Unit on Aging. These agencies develop programs and advocate for older persons needs in state government and lead the Area Agencies on Aging in that state.
In localities around the nation there are Area Agencies on Aging who provide assistance and services directly to older persons in their communities. There are 655 Area Agencies on Aging. They have different names based on their history and community, but there is one that serves every locality in the U.S.
So you are or wherever your loved older friends and relatives live, there is an agency you can call to begin getting needed help. There is a website at the Administration on Aging that will direct you to the right Area Agency based on zipcode, city or county.
(See http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare/Public/Home.asp .)
Area Agencies provide a broad range of services:
• Information and referral (I&R)
• Outreach services
• Transportation
• Care management
• Employment services
• Senior centers
• Congregate meals programs
• Adult day services
• Volunteer programs
• Homemaker and Home Health services
• Home-delivered mealsr
• Chore
• Telephone reassurance
• Friendly visiting
• Energy assistance
• Emergency response
• Personal care
• Respite care
Unfortunately, resources available to these agencies are limited. They can not serve all the elders who are in need. By law they do have to concentrate on those in greatest economic and social need.
But they provide information to everyone. So Area Agencies are a great place to start if you are seeking help for an older person. If they can not help, they can direct you to a geriatric case manager or another agency that may be able to provide the services your elder needs. This is especially true if for those out-of-town relatives and friends who are attempting to assist older loved ones through long-distance caregiving.
Website resources: The Administration on Aging
The National Association of State Units on Aging is an association of State Units on Aging that supports these agencies to achieve their mission. Here’s a site that lists all the State Units on Aging. http://www.nasua.org/SUAMembers.cfm#tx
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging does the same for these local community organizations. http://www.mfaaa.org/AreaAging.aspx
Political issues to watch: The Aging Network is severely underfunded, yet they are a logical resource for a coordinated system of long-term care services. Watch how the Nursing Home Owners and other providers of long-term care and home and community-based care agencies struggle over meager resources and reimbursements for long-term health care.
Business Opportunities: Consulting opportunities at all three levels especially as the Area Agencies become more sophisticated and stretch into other health and social services arenas. They will need expert guidance. Service provision – check the list of services above. Although some Area Agencies provide their services using their staff, others contract for all services. If you provide one of these services, Area Agencies may be a source of a stable contract.