Tag Archives: recession

Rise of elderly persons in the workforce

The Great Recession wrought havoc upon the labor market: Unemployment rates increased, overall hours worked decreased, and more people over the age of retirement were forced to remain in the workforce.

According to a US Census Bureau report from June 2011, 14 percent of the civilian work force in the United States was aged 65 or older. Of that number, 58 percent were men and 42 percent were women.

Of the many reasons the older individuals are choosing to work longer, increased financial stability and the creation of a sense of community are usually the most prominent reasons.

As science and medicine have progressed over the years, so has life expectancy. With fewer disabled persons over the age of 65, this population is ready and willing to work. The nature of employment has progressed, as well. Jobs that the elderly take on usually aren’t as physically taxing as they once used to be.

The majority of jobs that employ people over the age of 65 include professional, managerial, technical and administrative support positions.

With the US minimum wage increases of 2007, 2008 and 2009, people everywhere are able to earn a few dollars more per hour than several years ago. This is an incentive for the elderly to stay in the workforce, as they are guaranteed to make more money and bolster their savings.

Another element that contributes to the aging workforce is the fact that baby boomers are beginning to come of retirement age.

A baby boomer is someone who was born during the post-World War II era that saw a dramatic increase in the number of US births. According to US Census Bureau estimates, by the year 2030, one in five US citizens will be of age 65 or older. This will undoubtedly result in an influx of older individuals in the everyday workforce.

Hours worked by the elderly were greater after the recession than before it began, although for the entire population hours worked post-recession were fewer than before. When the stock and housing markets crashed, some of the hardest hit individuals were the elderly.

The need to make money because of the recession has stimulated much of the elderly population to get back out there and find a job. Retirement is no longer an option for some, and the only way to achieve financial security is to keep working.

In some cases, employers are much more willing to hire an older person than someone at entry level; generally, they have more experience and don’t always demand high salaries.

While it may be reassuring for retirement-age persons that they can remain in the workforce if they need or choose to do so, this poses a problem for the younger population. If the 65 and older crowd take all the jobs, where will all the greenhorns and young bucks go for work?



Mulligan, Casey B. “When Times Get Tough, the Elderly Work” Economix – The New York Times http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/when-times-get-tough-the-elderly-work/ Accessed 10/6/11.

“Rates of elderly Americans in workforce climbs” CNN U.S.http://articles.cnn.com/2001-06-01/us/census.elderly_1_elderly-workers-elderly-women-older-men?_s=PM:US Accessed 10/6/11.


Community college programs prepare students for the workforce

As the United States approaches its fourth year of economic confusion, economists are still undecided as to whether or not the nation will slip back into recession. With the national unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, feelings of uncertainty are saturated within the American public.

Even with the current air of insecurity about America’s future, there are signs of hope in the persistent job openings for highly-skilled workers. As technology develops, the skill level needed for specialized positions can prop up many industries.

To prepare the American population for in-demand jobs, community colleges are a vital factor in economic development. Two-year programs can prepare students for specialized jobs and partner with employers that are hiring to create programs designed to train specifically for new openings.

Community colleges can be flexible to the needs of employers by focusing on preparing students and teaching them the skills that are relevant to certain specialized and highly-skilled positions. During the slow economic recovery, two-year institutions have seen increased enrollment as people are studying in programs that will retrain them to meet the demands of employers.

A 2010 Federal Reserve report indicated that about one-third of students enrolled in post-secondary institutions were attending two-year colleges. Not only do community colleges prove to be important in retraining the workforce, but they also contribute significantly to the education industry in the US.

The importance of community colleges in the US economic recovery isn’t lost on the government. In October 2010, President Obama announced the Skills for America’s Future initiative, which encouraged public-private partnerships to create new retraining programs at two-year colleges.

The initiative aimed to increase the number of employers that partner with community colleges and create a stronger curriculum in order to match the skills needed for specialized jobs.

In the American Jobs Act proposal, delivered to Congress in September 2011, President Obama called for $5 billion to be spent on modernizing community colleges across the nation. If passed, the legislation would allow for upgrades to education facilities in order to better meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.

Sectors of the workforce that continue to be in demand for skilled workers include health care and manufacturing. Both of these areas continue to grow and require highly-trained workers to perform the new jobs.

According to the National Skills Coalition, middle-skill jobs make up the largest segment of the US workforce. Middle-skill positions are defined as those that require more than a high-school education but less than a four-year degree.

As the demand for skilled workers increases as the US emerges from the Great Recession, there may be a transformation in the ideals of the education system. No longer will high school students be pressured to enroll in a four-year university so they can figure out what they want to do with their lives.

There are plenty of highly-educated individuals out there with bachelor’s degrees working part-time or collecting unemployment. The future of the American workforce may be in the two-year programs designed to train students specifically for jobs in demand. Lower cost of education, higher return of employment; this may be the deciding factor in pulling America out of its economic slump once and for all.



Evercloud, Debbie. “Community colleges assist in economic recovery” ourColoradonews.com http://www.ourcoloradonews.com/business/growth/community-colleges-assist-in-economic-recovery/article_ae4b39a4-de80-11e0-9d0c-001cc4c002e0.html

Smith, Diane. “Jobs plan would modernize community colleges” Star-Telegram http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/09/21/3386717/jobs-plan-would-modernize-community.html

Spencer, Katie. “Community colleges work to fill huge demand for ‘middle-skill’ workers” MEDILL REPORTS CHICAGO http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=181511

Obama’s American Jobs Act

On Sep. 8, President Obama unveiled his $447 billion American Jobs Act before a joint session of Congress. Obama spoke for more than thirty minutes, discussing his ideas for payroll tax cuts, long-term unemployment benefits, and infrastructure spending.

This week, economists have been analyzing the President’s proposal and how it will ultimately affect the economy.

Theoretically, the plans would put hundreds of thousands back in the workforce by next year, reduce unemployment rates and boost economic growth. One of the main initiatives discussed was a substantial Social Security tax cut aimed at providing an increase in direct income.

An extension of a tax cut implemented this year that reduced Social Security taxes from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent would be extended to a new version that would drop the rate to 3.1 percent. This savings will theoretically result in more spending, temporarily spurring the economy.

The potential hurdle is that a Social Security cut would expire by the end of 2012, providing only a temporary boost in spending. In addition, there are few guarantees that Americans would use the extra money from their paychecks for goods and services, and even if they did, the US economy is largely dependent on foreign products.

The Buy American provision of Obama’s plan attempts to compensate for the potential consumer spending on foreign goods. The directive states that none of the money created by the American Jobs Act can be used for spending on infrastructure improvements unless all of the goods used in the project were produced in the US.

With at least $80 billion of the American Jobs Act proposed for spending on infrastructure improvements and the modernization of schools, the Buy American provision may keep the money spent on goods within the US. The White House also hopes that the increase in construction employment will further spur the economy.

In resolving the long-term unemployment dilemma (which includes 43 percent of out-of-work Americans), the act calls for a $4,000 tax break for businesses that hire applicants who have been unemployed for six months or more.

Additional provisions of the act include extending emergency unemployment benefits and providing aid to keep state and local governments from laying off teachers.

Political pundits predict that President Obama’s new plan will not likely be met with open arms in Congress. Republicans have criticized the act of basically re-hashing the old ideas that failed with Obama’s $825 billion economic stimulus plan in February of 2009.

Failing to provide substantial economic growth or tame the unemployment rate, that act was mainly successful in keeping the US out of a full-blown depression. Although the previous plan did manage to save or create millions of jobs, it could not compete with the rising unemployment rates across the country.

A common sentiment among those who oppose President Obama’s new ideas is that the top priority of the president is to preserve his own position. With the 2012 elections just 14 months away, holding his position in office may be on the top of Obama’s list, and some believe that his new plan is merely an attempt to gain the support of voters.

As temporary as the American Jobs Act will ultimately be, it’s a stepping stone in the right direction. It proposes ideas that both parties can hopefully agree on, but it still doesn’t address the larger concern: Spending doesn’t save an economy, so what will save America’s?

That question, at least for now, has gone unanswered by most politicians and economists.


“Many economists say Obama jobs plan will help” Associated Press http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2011-09-09/obama-jobs-plan-economists/50336434/1

“Obama unveils $447B jobs package” USAToday http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2011-09-08/Obama-unveils-447B-jobs-package/50327464/1

“House Passes $819B Stimulus Package” FOXNEWS.com http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/28/house-passes-b-stimulus-package/