More Seniors Are Joining The Workforce

9 years 7 months 2 days ago September 21, 2007 Sep 21, 2007 Friday, September 21 2007 Friday, September 21, 2007 8:13:29 AM CDT in News
Source: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Many seniors are asking this same question as more are joining the workforce.

National Employ Older Workers Week begins this Sunday, and it finds more and more seniors in the workforce. These older workers may help the nation address the challenge posed by potential labor shortages in health care.

The number of employed Americans aged 65 to 90 is increasing rapidly, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. For instance, about 6.4 percent of Americans 75 or older, or slightly more than 1 million, were working last year. That's up from 4.7 percent, or 634,000, a decade earlier.

Seniors may join the workforce and delay retirement for various reasons. Some do it for personal satisfaction, while the motivation for others is financial necessity.

National Employ Older Workers Week, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), runs September 23 through 29.

The annual event showcases 42 years of the SCSEP providing on-the-job experience and training to low-income people who are 55 or older. It encourages employers to draw upon the underutilized pool of experienced and committed older American workers. Since its inception, the program has helped over one million people enter the job market each year.

In Missouri, the program is administered through a $2.3 million-plus grant agreement with the Department of Health and Senior Services and three of its contracting agencies: Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Inc., MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries, and Experience Works, Inc. The funding will be used primarily for wages to train up to 299 older workers this year.

Linda James, 57, a part-time office assistant for Cole County Public Administrator Marilyn Schmutzler, is one of the program's success stories. James received training for her current position by working for Experience Works. The agency contracts with nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies to place James and other program participants in paid training assignments, which may last up to five years. The participants work around 20 hours a week during their training and receive minimum wage, which is currently $6.50 an hour in Missouri.

The goal for all SCSEP participants is to move out of training and into an unsubsidized, private-sector job, thereby increasing their earnings. James accomplished this goal when Cole County's public administrator hired her for a permanent part-time position in January 2007, which increased her wages and hours.

For now, James has no thoughts of retiring.

"I want to work as long as I'm physically able," says James.

"The atmosphere here is great. There's never a dull moment. I assist the public administrator in providing help to clients who are trying to deal with guardianship and financial issues," added James.

Low-income seniors interested in obtaining a paid job-training assignment and 501(c)(3) organizations interested in serving as a host agency for a senior's training may call the Department at (573) 526-8534.

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