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Opinion: An effective way to keep retirees out of poverty is to tackle the problem at work (and it has nothing to do with retirement accounts)

A recent study of ProPublica and the Urban Institute found that up to half of the 40 million working adults over the age of 50 would at some point be fired (completely fired) or forced to resign (skip jobs before they were layoff).

And once pushed out, only 10% of these displaced older workers have ever found a replacement job with wages commensurate with the occupation they left behind. The old guy or girl you see bagged at the Whole Foods grocery store is probably not there because he or she wants to be that person.

How bad is it?

Teresa Ghilarducci, a nationally recognized labor economist and expert on retirement security, estimates that “about 50 percent of workers over 55 will be poor or near-poor adults by the time they turn 65. “.

Let that number sink in – 50%. Soon, we will all know someone who arrived – a friend, a family member. Ourselves.

And don’t think the retirement income crunch is just a nasty little Boomer problem. GenXers and Millennials are in the footsteps of them. Like Boomers, many face a precarious job future, no pensions, a lack of affordable housing, and soaring healthcare costs – and let’s not forget more than 1.6 trillion. USD debt for student loan.

So maybe it’s time for a different approach.

Since 2012, Larry Fink, President and CEO of BlackRock
The world’s largest investment management firm, with a net worth of nearly $ 9 trillion, sends annual letters to business leaders about the most pressing issues facing society and the role of business in solving them.

This year and last year he spoke on “growing retirement crisis” and workers worry about savings depletion and urged companies to “take on greater responsibility to help workers move towards retirement, lending. innovative capacity to address this enormous global challenge ”.

I assert that an important part of helping “workers move towards retirement” is addressing the age disparity in the workplace. Age discrimination at work, now coupled with the health risks of COVID-19, is forcing millions of older Americans to leave their jobs for involuntary early retirement – an involuntary retirement is marked by poverty.

As the most powerful investor in the world, BlackRock’s priorities will resonate in executive suites and meeting rooms around the globe. In this healthy age of extended longevity, I’d like to see BlackRock engage corporations directly with their 50 plus strategies and ask about their investment progress and leveraging talent across their generations, special measures to attracting and retaining older workers.

Last year, AARP interviewed about 6,000 Employers from all over the world and 83% say the age-diverse workforce is “key to their companies’ long-term growth and success”. But only 47% actually track age as a diversity factor.

Collecting and analyzing data is the first step in understanding the age demographics of the workforce and identifying underlying issues.

This 47% is a place to place a flag. These companies are among those that will set standards and pioneer best practices on how to retain and reintegrate people over the age of 50 into the workforce. Recognize them, give them a bigger speaker and learn from their experience.

In New York City, The Smart Employer of the Time Awards, an initiative by the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center that celebrates age-friendly companies. These awards are a good place to start and I’d like to see more municipalities accept them. They normalize hiring older workers and go beyond commitment. Real companies have to show how they start their conversations.

I have read President Biden’s plan for older Americans, and it’s ambitious, addressing many of the biggest problems Boomer Americans face today, including controlling the cost of prescription drugs, boosting Medicare, and the Care Act. Affordable squirrel, Preserve Social Security, enlarge and add teeth according to age discrimination law.

A lot has changed since the Aging Americans Act, at the heart of US age policy, was enacted in 1965 and only re-commissioned in the government’s fiscal year 2024.

For example, OAA offers job opportunities and job training programs for low-income seniors through the Aging Community Service Program (SCSEP). But with current funding levels, SCSEP can only serve about 1% of eligible individuals. Also, the SCSEP job seeker profile today is not the same as it was more than 50 years ago, especially after the Great Depression.

In the SCSEP program I consulted in 2017, about 40% of the participants had at least some university degree. But SCSEP is limited to paying minimum wages and very few jobs offer advancement opportunities. Participants shared that they were grateful to work but struggled to make a living, let alone save.

The economy of aging is forcing many elderly Americans to work beyond traditional retirement age. For SCSEP, this means expanding its services to meet the needs of a broader segment of economically vulnerable older job seekers for skilled employment opportunities. higher in more functions and fields.

But private sector companies will need government encouragement to increase their participation in the SCSEP program – supporting workplace training and modifications, salary offsets and other benefits. . High-quality jobs can also come from the government through overcoming older job seekers in the U.S. Employment Act or other major federally funded job programs.

As a nation, we have achieved longevity by investing tens of billions of dollars in disease diagnosis, management and treatment. We have been around for a long time but have not invested successfully in the physical and social infrastructure necessary to support our health, economic, emotional, and dignity as we age. go.

This is the work before our eyes now. And we are playing tag. Great moment.

Also read: You have the potential to be unemployed in your 50s – 4 ways to prepare and relieve your pain

Elizabeth White started his career at the World Bank, then became a retail entrepreneur and is now an advocate for elders facing job uncertainty and financial insecurity and as author of the “55, Lack of Job and Normal Counterfeiting“. Follow her on Twitter @ 55fakingnormal.



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