The United States has only about 39 million workers age 55 and older. What is it like to be one of those 39 million older workers? You can’t generalize. They range from billionaire Warren Buffett to Butch Marion, an 82-year-old employee at walmart
who was able to retire after someone sponsored a GoFundMe campaign for him.
Welcome to old age in America.
Most people don’t have enough to retire as they approach midlife.60’ssixty — 44% of households with elderly members 55-64 have no savings.
Because near-retirees have no significant source of retirement income other than Social Security, many will have to take whatever jobs they can find. Even the bad ones. I’m always looking for good data on what older workers face and New School graduate student Owen Davis and I found some in the January 2023 issue. American Economic Association/ASSA Conference in warm New Orleans.
It’s hard for older workers to hold down a job, as noted by the Urban Institute. Richard W. Johnson showed the economists gathered there. Older workers fare worse under conditions of layoffs and business closures.
Job search is easier for workers under 50 who are displaced from a job: More than 70% of displaced workers under 50 typically find a new job within three years of losing their job . However, for workers ages 55 to 61, that number drops to 59%. Among those who can start claiming Social Security, starting at age 62, the reemployment rate drops to just 38%. So they either apply for early Social Security benefits with reduced monthly benefits or start bidding for and accept jobs that are worse than their old ones.
Early retirement is an all too common last resort, and involuntary retirements increase the risk of depression Y downward mobility.
Work market scars it’s another effect of job loss beyond the pain of unemployment. Swearing refers to income losses experienced by displaced workers who do to find a job again. Again, things get worse as you get older. Reemployed displaced workers, ages 55 to 61, earn 22% less than before, a scarring effect that is more than twice as severe as for 30-year-olds. Weekly earnings are 29% lower for reemployed dislocated workers age 62 and older.
The bottom line: older workers who are displaced from their jobs take big pay cuts to get back into the workforce. This is not a surprise to those of us who follow the growing literature on ageism.
Here is a glimmer of hope. Johnson found that reemployment rates have improved over time for workers ages 55 to 61, but sadly not for workers 62 and older. This question is also the subject of a dissertation by new New School PhD (and former student of mine) Aida Farmand, now at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, whose work finds that older workers have become more exposed to the risk of job displacement over time. .
leah abrams from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health provided some good news for older workers in the shift project about service worker schedules and schedules, especially last-minute time changes, being on call, and working back-to-back closing and opening shifts, colloquially known as “shutdown.”
Employers in retail and restaurant settings are juggling their experience with uncertain demand and tight margins by asking workers to be on call and work long hours. worker advocates argue employers unfairly pass these uncertainties on to their workers, resulting in schedules that force workers to choose between their job security on the one hand and their Health Y family responsibilities in the other one.
Scheduling practices were a major issue in unionization drives at Starbucks.
The change project finds that 80% of older service workers face at least one form of instability, the most common being last-minute shift schedule changes. However, for each type of scheduling problem, older workers tend to do better than younger workers.
While half of people ages 18 to 29 reported working closing shifts, only a third of workers ages 50 to 80 did. Twenty percent of the younger group had last-minute shift cancellations, while only 13% of the older group did.
One might wonder if all these older workers who do put up with hard programming jobs just enjoy that kind of work. Is it that they just don’t mind being on call or having last minute schedule changes?
Well, probably not. Abrams and her coauthors find that poor scheduling among older workers is strongly associated with a wide range of ills: “psychological distress, poor sleep quality, work-family conflict, financial insecurity, job dissatisfaction, and intentions to seek employment.” new job. ” Clearly these workers could be better off with better hours and New York, Chicago and Philadelphia have passed laws that give workers the right to stable and predictable hours.
Bad America’s retirement security system = Bad jobs for America’s older workers
The crux of the problem of bad jobs for older workers is that insufficient retirement savings and low Social Security benefits force older workers to take bad jobs. Higher minimum wage laws, better training, and hour protections can help improve the quality of work for older workers. Workers with the ability to retire from a bad job can negotiate better wages and working conditions with their current or new employers, individually or as part of a union.
Expecting workers to work longer, or using GoFundMe campaigns, is not a practical solution to a broken retirement system that doesn’t allow all workers to save for retirement in a consistent, fair and efficient manner. Americans already work longer and longer than workers in most rich countries. Working longer is a bad response to bad pensions.
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