WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Ranking Member Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging joined today in releasing the findings of the Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce. The taskforce was created at the request of Senators Kohl and Smith in an effort to expand opportunities for older Americans choosing to remain in the workforce, and to develop proposals to address the challenges and opportunities of an aging workforce.
“I'm glad to finally be receiving this report. Since this taskforce convened in May 2006, nearly 5 million baby boomers have reached retirement age,” said Senator Kohl. “While the report provides a broad overview of several legal and regulatory barriers, what we really need to focus on is creating innovative workplace practices and providing attractive employer benefits to facilitate the hiring and retention of older workers.”
“By 2025 labor force growth is expected to be less than a fifth of what it is today,” said Senator Smith. “The goal of the taskforce is to prevent this dramatic decline through strategies that encourage extended work life and remove barriers that hinder seniors from working longer. This report is a good first step in what must be an on-going effort to ensure the door stays open for our seniors whowish to remain an active part of the U.S. workforce.”
The interagency effort was launched in May 2006 to focus on the aging of the American workforce and the impact of this demographic change. The Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce was charged with two primary goals: (1) identifying strategies to enhance the ability of older Americans to remain in or re-enter the labor market and pursue self-employment opportunities; and (2) identifying strategies to enable businesses to take full advantage of this skilled labor pool.
The report presents strategies developed by the taskforce to address the most significant issues related to the aging of the American workforce. Among other suggestions, the taskforce recommends creating an interagency group to inventory the legal and regulatory barriers and disincentives to employment of older workers. The interagency will identify the pros and cons of specific approaches to addressing each barrier. The taskforce also recommends making educational resources on retirement and financial literacy available to older workers at One-Stop Career Centers and local Social Security Administration offices.
Kohl is currently working with Special Committee on Aging Ranking Member Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) on a bill that would remove barriers to working longer and incentivize employers to hire older workers.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging plans to hold a hearing in the spring on what the federal government can do to engage and retain older workers. The Committee will highlight some of the federal government’s current best practices in this arena, and look to ways improvements can be made. A second bill will likely be introduced around this time to make the federal government’s current hiring practices and procedures more friendly to older workers and will focus on increasing work schedule flexibility and phased retirement options.
Last year, Chairman Kohl introduced two bills: the Older Worker Opportunity Act of 2007 (S.709) and the Health Care and Training for Older Workers Act (S.708), both of which would give older Americans the opportunity to work longer if they so choose and offer incentives to businesses for employing older workers.
The Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce is composed of senior representatives from nine federal agencies: the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, and Treasury; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Small Business Administration; and Social Security Administration. The Taskforce is chaired by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, Emily Stover DeRocco.
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