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Getting Wiser About Being Older

Where is workforce really booming? Among the oldest workers. Christian Science Monitor, 24 May 2019, Laurent Belsie

Age No Barrier

“Darneese Carnes was in a bad mental place three years ago. In October, she was fired from her job at a group home in suburban Boston, especially tough for a woman in her mid-50s with few job prospects. The next month, her sister died. Her brother-in-law, a trucker, was so worried about her he took her along for two months while he made his runs. Back home, she ran across a flyer from Operation Able, a Boston nonprofit aimed at getting people, especially older people, back into the workforce through training and job placement. She did so well there, the nonprofit itself hired her. “Operation Able really did save my life,” she says.
Since then, Ms. Carnes has moved to Boston Duck Tours, which offers land-water tours of the city, and drives its iconic duck boats. “I love driving!” she says. “I love people.” A funny thing is happening on the way to America’s aging crisis, which is expected to strain government resources and could well drag down economic growth. Increasingly, senior employees are staying in the workforce, either holding onto their jobs long beyond traditional retirement or returning to work after retirement. And companies, which once tried to push seniors out the door, are waking up to the potential value that they offer.”

Through the WI Lens

This piece charts the quiet revolution taking place in American workplaces as demographics dictate that citizens are living longer – and expecting to work longer too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2024 the number of workers age 65 to 74 will rise 55%, and those 75 and older will increase 86%. This comes at a time when the ageing population poses many other problems for society, and puts an unprecedented strain on the economy. Companies are queueing up to sign the AARP’s pledge – that’s the American Association of Retired Persons, ironically – to promote equal opportunity for all workers regardless of age, and some are even thinking about how to make the workplace more friendly for older workers. What really comes across in this article is that having work for some older people is an economic necessity and for others it can provide a continued purpose and meaning in life; in either case it’s at the heart of wellbeing. And what’s clear is that the ageing workforce is a reality that all employers – on both sides of the Atlantic – are going to have to grapple with.

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