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December 2015

Where Older Workers Get Squeezed in the Job Market

OntheClockTime and again, I've discussed the reality that Boomers want to or need to continue to work into their Sixties and Seventies. But a particularly interesting problem is the one faced by Boomers who have spent their lives working at jobs considered "middle-skill" occupations, including office administration, professional sales, production and repair, operators and fabricators, and skilled administration, protective and personal services. These occupations, which account for over 40 percent of all jobs, have been in long-term decline, making it especially challenging for middle-skill Boomers to maintain employment.

A recent report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College looked at employment outcomes specifically for older workers first observed in middle-skill jobs. If they leave a middle-skill job, are they able to find jobs in another skill level, or are they forced out of employment prematurely? What are the circumstances surrounding these transitions, and how are the workers’ earnings affected?

The heart of the problem for these workers is the following, according to the report: 

"Older workers may be particularly vulnerable to polarization; the labor market for prime-aged workers was slanted more toward middle-skill occupations when these workers were younger, and it might be difficult to increase their skills up to the high level, while low-skill jobs might involve physical labor that older, middle-skilled workers are unable or unwilling to perform." In addition, "many older workers who are forced out of middle-skill jobs and unable to find high-skill jobs may retire early, join the growing ranks of the long-term unemployed or disabled, or otherwise drop out of the labor force."

So it seems where older Americans get squeezed is if they are middle-skilled workers.

There is some good news in the report, however; older workers have generally not been hurt more than any other group, largely because older workers often prefer part-time employment, for which even low-skilled positions are acceptable. The study concludes:

"Middle-skilled workers may require unemployment benefits and other income-support programs and job training to ensure that the decline in their employment opportunities does not have long-lasting consequences, but that safety net is no more necessary for older workers."

You can download a copy of the full report below.

Download Older Middle Skilled Workers Report

Insight into Post Retirement Careers

OntheClock"Retirement" is a word that may have to be retired. The notion of "retirement" is so different from just a generation ago. Americans are living longer, but a significant number are looking forward to woefully underfunded later years. Some Boomers are still recovering from the 2008 financial debacle. Most don't think Social Security will be adequate. As a result, it's almost a given that many Boomers will be working at least part-time instead of fully retiring.

A 2015 AARP study of "post retirement careers" sheds some light on the situation. According to the study, almost half of respondents (45 percent) see "retirement age" as between 65 and 69. More than a third of them (37 percent) expect to work for pay after retiring from their current career.

For those who expect to work post retirement, close to half (44 percent) will do so in a new field, while 23 percent say they will stay in the same field; 33 percent are undecided. Most respondents (73 percent) will seek part-time employment -- only 25 percent of males and 21 percent of females expect to be fully retired. As for having a boss or being the boss, 57 percent of respondents anticipate working for someone else instead of being a contractor or starting their own business.

Boomers are notorious for redefining just about everything -- and retirement is no different. To review the complete AARP Post Retirement Career Study, click on the link below.

Download AARP Career Study 

An Online Voice for Boomer Women

MusingsBoomer women are a significant force in America. In consumer marketing, it is a well-known principle that women are largely responsible for household buying decisions. Various research studies point to the fact that women over age 50, who make up more than half of America's Baby Boomer population, control almost 75 percent of the wealth in America. Women over 50 are also the fastest growing demographic when it comes to being active online.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 12.05.28 PMIt turns out Boomer women have an online voice --, the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. The association's website is a treasure trove of information, featuring experts who write insightful articles on topics including arts and entertainment, caregiving, family and relationships, giving back, going green, health and fitness, and work and money. The association also offers members the opportunity to listen by phone to monthly seminars presented by experts.

"Boomer-in-Chief" Anne Holmes recently launched a new section, "Boomer Life Reboots," on the NABBW website, and I'm proud to say that I authored the first article in the section. "Coupled in Work: Will Owning a Business with Your Spouse Hurt Your Personal Relationship?" is a candid exploration of the ups and downs of working together as a couple. You can read it here.

The Boomer as Caregiver

BooksIt's an increasingly common scenario: Even as Boomers themselves age, they are put in the position of having to care for their aging parents. I witnessed this personally in caring for my elderly mother, and now my wife is doing the same for her 92-year old mother. For many Boomers and their parents, the preferable way to age is not only to maintain independence, but ideally, for elderly parents to remain in their homes if at all possible.

Carolyn A. Brent, author of the book,Why Wait? The Baby Boomers' Guide to Preparing Emotionally, Financially & Legally for a Parents' Death,”  offers these ten signals that your aging parent might no longer be able to live alone:

  1. Mom or Dad has always been a great housekeeper, but the house just doesn't look like it used to.
  2. The bills and other mail are piling up.
  3. The checking account balance is wrong and bills are going unpaid.
  4. Your parent is losing a lot of weight.
  5. They have forgotten the basics of hygiene.
  6. They appear in inappropriate clothing.
  7. There are signs of forgetfulness in the home.
  8. Your parent regularly misses appointments and other important items.
  9. They are just acting plain weird.
  10. They exhibit signs of depression.

In addition to her book, Brent has started a non-profit organization called CareGiver Story that provides a wealth of free resources for adult caregivers. Learn more about it here:

You can order Carolyn Brent's useful book directly from Amazon below.