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More Workers Employed After Traditional Retirement Years

Older workers in Ohio and nationwide will comprise a much higher portion of the workforce in the years to come, and employers should be prepared to accommodate and benefit from the experience and range of attributes they bring to the job, according to a report released this month by Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center.

The report, “Ohio’s Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges for Ohio’s Employers,” stresses that the first wave of America’s baby boomers has already reached the front end of traditional retirement years (55 and older) and that those age 55 and older will constitute nearly 30 percent of Ohio’s overall population by the year 2020.

Accordingly, the report, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, states that older workers (those age 55 and older) are now the most rapidly growing segment of the Ohio and U.S. workforce. As a group, they are projected to increase nationwide by 47 percent from 2006 to 2016. In Ohio, the proportion of older workers in the state’s workforce is expected to rise from 16.7 percent to 22.4 percent (an increase of 34 percent) in that same 10-year span. Other interesting projections from the report include:

• Two-thirds of Ohioans age 55 to 64 are expected to be in the state’s workforce in 2016.

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• Roughly 20 percent of Ohioans age 65 and older are expected to be in the state’s workforce in the year 2016.

• By 2016, two-thirds of all job openings in Ohio are expected to be for positions replacing retirees.

The number of older persons in the workforce will not increase solely because of the growth in the older population, but also, the researchers note, because a high proportion (32 percent) of older workers have not saved for retirement and only about one-third expect to have employer-based health insurance after they leave employment. In some cases, though, older workers remain in the workforce simply because they enjoy their jobs, wish to stay active, mentally alert and/or find their work fulfilling.

The report, authored by gerontology doctoral student Lydia Manning and Shahla Mehdizadeh, senior research scholar at Scripps and adjunct associate professor of gerontology and sociology – and produced in consultation with the Ohio Dept. of Aging – includes profiles of several older workers in Ohio and touches on the general virtues of older employees, such as better work ethic; lower absenteeism; lower turnover; flexibility in scheduling; and job-specific skills. The report also lists incentives that some companies are offering to retain workers, such as flexible schedules, employee discounts and eldercare benefits.

Shahla Mehdizadeh | Newswise Science News
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