Over the next few decades the US population will witness an unprecedented growth in the population age 65 and older. The aging of the Baby Boom population i.e., the cohort born between 1946 and 1964, relatively low levels of fertility since the 1970s, and improvements in life expectancy are responsible for population aging. Because of population aging, the US workforce has undergone significant changes with respect to age. By 2020 the US will witness a decrease in the relative proportion of labor force participation of young people and prime age working people, and a significant increase in older workers (US Bureau of Labor statistics, 2012). It is estimated that by 2020 one in four workers will be age 55 and older with the most significant increase in labor force participation among the oldest old (Hayutine, Beals, and Borges, 2013). Also, as federal entitlement programs e.g., Social Security and Medicare are cut back and restructured, access to pensions continues to decrease, and savings and assets are utilized to meet daily expenses for food, rent, and out of pocket costs for health care; working for many older adults will increasingly become a necessity. An older adult’s income has traditionally been viewed as consisting of three income streams: Social Security, Pensions, and Assets/Savings; often referred to as a three legged stool of income in retirement where each leg represents roughly a third of an older adult’s income. However, increases in the age of eligibility for Social Security, reducing and holding back cost of living increases in Social Security benefits, a sluggish economy, as well as sharp economic down turns have eroded the three legs of incomes among the older adult population. Therefore, we can expect for many older adults working will increasingly be the fourth leg of income that they will come to rely upon as they age.
Improving older adult’s opportunities for employment will continue to be important as the age structure of the US shifts, and entitlement programs continue to be cutback and restructured. Policies that offer retraining, training and counseling for older workers such as the Workforce Investment Act and the Senior Community Service Program (Title V under the Older Americans Act) will be critical in providing access to employment for those age 60+. Programs only work, however, if people know about them. Data from the PALA survey demonstrates that nearly three-fourths of the population do not know of job opportunities for older adults, programs to provide training for older adults, or of jobs that are adapted to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, outreach and education campaigns that bring awareness of the employment and training opportunities available for older adults is imperative.
Maintain Robust Community Engagement
The County and City established the Action Planning Workgroup, comprised of community leaders and experts selected by the Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles City Council, and AARP, to provide input and guidance in developing the PALA Initiative. The County and City will continue to engage this Working Group and utilize other strategies to involve communities and stakeholders across the Los Angeles Region during implementation of the PALA Initiative.
Develop coordinated County and City strategies for connecting older adults to meaningful and practical employment opportunities.
As older adults are healthier and living longer lives, many are working well into their sixties and even seventies. Approximately 20 percent of adults ages 65 and older are working at least part-time, which is a higher percentage than at any time in the past fifty years. Older workers are often characterized by positive qualities such as experience, dedication, attention to detail, confidence and reliability. The County and City should adopt policies and programs that maximize opportunities to hire older adults, including low-income older adults served by the County’s network of America’s Job Centers of California. Mentorship and coaching may be needed to help some older adults adjust to a new work environment or different type of job.
Expand opportunities and resources for older adult volunteers.
As individuals remain active and healthy for longer, volunteerism becomes an increasing opportunity to engage older adults and improve their well-being as they age. While there are currently a wide-range of volunteer opportunities available throughout the County and City for older adults, these efforts are spread out and there is currently no one place where older adults can go to be connected to various volunteer opportunities based on their availability, interests, place of residence, etc.
Many older adults are interested in volunteering, but they don’t know where to go or how to engage in volunteerism. These recommendations are intended to establish additional resources to connect volunteers to opportunities with County and City Departments, as well as in the community. Recognizing the need to partner with private entities that engage volunteers, the City and County will collaborate with AARP and other organizations to outreach to older adults. In addition, currently there are more than 4,000 referrals of suspected elder and dependent adult abuse each month and many more that go unreported. With the older adult population on pace to double in the Los Angeles region between 2010 and 2030, there is significant potential for elder and dependent adult abuse to increase in our communities. WDACS will work with DCBA and City and County Departments to expand efforts to educate the community on how to prevent and report abuse, and scams targeting older adults and dependent adults.
LA City Employment & Workforce Development Department