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The New American Workforce: Older Workers

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homespun-low-res-831.jpgRISMEDIA, August 31, 2007–Labor Day is an opportune time to reflect upon the American workforce. Since the inception of Labor Day 125 years ago, the complexion of the workforce we honor has changed dramatically. Increasingly these laborers are older Americans.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the share of the labor force aged 55 and older, currently at 17 percent, is rising rapidly and, by 2020, it is projected to be nearly 24 percent. The graying of the labor force can be attributed to many factors including longer life expectancy, the enactment of age discrimination laws, and significant increases in healthcare costs, necessitating more income later in life.

Older workers staying in the labor force longer is good news for employers. A mass exodus of Baby Boomers, currently between the ages of 43 and 61, from the labor force as they reach retirement age would cause a significant labor shortage. Some experts predict that by 2012, there will be 3.3 million fewer workers than jobs. Retaining older workers longer would alleviate the expected shortage.

Keeping these workers employed also makes good business sense. A report prepared for AARP by Towers Perrin, The Business Case for Workers Age 50+, found that older workers are more motivated to exceed expectations on the job than their younger counterparts. They also bring experience, dedication, focus, stability and enhanced knowledge to their work.

However, businesses will have to offer the right mix of rewards in order to attract, retain and engage older workers, according to the study. These include health care benefits, innovative growth opportunities and flexible work schedules.

Evelyn Issa, staffing manager over National Hiring Partnerships for Home Depot, agrees.

“Mature workers bring not only solid work experience to the job, but they also have a lower rate of attrition and a strong work ethic,” she said. “Many of our older workers are enjoying retirement but want a part-time job where they can interact with people and use the skills they’ve developed. To attract and retain them, Home Depot offers part-time, flexible schedules with health benefits and a 401K plan. We believe this gives us a significant competitive advantage,” continued Issa.

To find these valuable older workers, Home Depot is participating in the Employ the Older Workers Job Fair Series-a national effort, reaching more than 40 cities, to bring together older workers and 50+-friendly employers.

A partnership between The Employment Guide (www.EmploymentGuide.com) and AARP Foundation (www.AARP.org/foundation), the job fair series will run from Aug. 22 to Oct. 19 and is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Employ Older Workers Week, Sept. 23-29, 2007.

“We are thrilled to offer the opportunity for older workers to connect with hundreds of potential employers. The Employ the Older Workers Job Fair Series is just one of the many ways we can help the older worker continue to make a contribution to the labor force,” said Jeff Littlejohn, vice president and general manager of The Employment Guide.

For more information on The Employment Guide, visit http://www.EmploymentGuide.com.

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