The End of Retirement

I guess I feel comforted to know it isn’t just my non-profit occupation which means no retirement, but many more, who have followed more conventional jobs, are also out of luck. Anyway, this is a thoughtful piece “Using history as our guide”—

by Teresa Ghilarducci
Monthyl Review, Volume 58, Number 1

….
The changes in the retirement future of Americans stem from the decline of union contracts, a dramatic shift in presidential and congressional attitudes about government responsibility for social insurance, and the substitution of defined contribution or 401(k)-type accounts for traditional defined benefit pensions….

Jobs and the Older American

Under what conditions can society provide jobs that older people want, not jobs that older people have to take? Currently it seems employers are offering jobs to older people that employers have previously reserved for other marginal workers. Instead of sixty being the new thirty, it would be the new seventeen as older people fill the area with the predicted largest growth in new jobs—retail clerks. This seems to be the direction in which we are going.

Since 1949, men and women over age sixty-five have said “ciao” to the labor market in recessions, and men withdrew from the labor force at the average yearly rate of 2.4 percent and women by 1.5 percent. Yet, in the most recent recession, men over age sixty-five still said “ciao” by 3.9 percent; but women said “hello” by increasing work effort by 5.3 percent. The labor force participation rate for slightly younger men and women, aged fifty-five to sixty-four, was higher over the most recent business cycle. However, if we remember our economics lessons, labor force participation and working are not the same thing. AARP analyst Sara Rix characterized 2002, the year the upturn began, as a mixed year for older workers. Despite the rapid increase in labor force participation, many of the elderly found unfavorable working conditions. If the elderly were laid off, they had half as much chance of being reemployed as younger people. The average duration of unemployment is higher for older workers and rose in 2002; the average search for job seekers over age fifty-five was sixteen weeks, up from 12.7 in 2001. Significantly, older men’s job security has gotten much worse. Their median years of tenure—the number of years a person has been employed by their current employer—has fallen dramatically, by almost 50 percent from 15.3 years for men aged 55–64 to just 10.2 years. (The decline is much smaller for women, from 9.8 years in 1983 to 9.6 years in 2002.)….

Read the entire article here–
http://www.monthlyreview.org/0506ghilarducci.htm

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