Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Oldest Americans Gain Jobs Even As Other Age Groups Suffer Losses

We are often asked our opinion as to whether older workers will suffer more in the recession like they did in 1990. As no 2 economists seem to agree on anything these days - who are we? Having said that our gut reaction is that they might suffer less than younger generations so it was fascinating to pick up a report from the US today which claims that the slowing economy has dampened the demand for older workers, but not much. The number of workers 55 and older is still growing significantly while those younger than 45 struggle with widespread job loss. This report shatters the myth that older workers are particularly vulnerable in this economic downturn. The fact is pared down companies may increasingly rely on seasoned veterans to get them through the downturn. They may cost more in salary and benefits, but their experience and knowledge make them highly valued. The preference for older workers has also resulted in a significant drop in the amount of time it takes job seekers 50 and older to find new positions. The median job search for those over 50 winning positions in the second quarter lasted 4.2 months, according to the latest quarterly survey of discharged managers and executives. That is just about two weeks longer than younger job seekers, whose median job search time in the second quarter was 3.6 months.

A recent survey of 140 mid-size and large companies in the US by Hewitt Associates found that 55 percent have evaluated the impact that potential retirements could have on their organizations. Sixty-one percent of the companies surveyed developed or plan to develop special programs to retain near-retirement workers, including phased retirements that allow would-be retirees to reduce their hours (and salaries) incrementally instead of all at once. This is a win-win for employers and potential retirees. The employer gets the benefit of retaining experienced personnel who will have more time to pass along their corporate knowledge to younger workers. Ageing workers benefit by not being thrust into retirement before they are mentally and financially ready.

We need to keep on eye on UK statistics to see if these patterns are repeated here.


Ann Fry, Head Boomer said...

This is an optimistic view and hopefully will continue to be true. We, the boomers and above certainly do have the knowledge base. Glad to hear that it's being recognized.

Barrie Hopson said...

Hi Ann. Thanks for your comment. This issue is exercising a great deal of discussion over here/ I did a book signing last night for our new book and this was one of the questions that came up - yet again - after our presentation. By the way loved your website. Great demo. Have you worked in the UK at all?