GAO: Focus on Older Workers Needed

November 20, 2001 ( Labor Department officials should begin studying how to best integrate large numbers of older Americans into the workforce as Baby Boomers face retirement in record numbers and opt to continue in their jobs, full or part time, a federal study concluded.

Even though workers 55 years old or older are expected to make up 20% of the workforce by 2025 and older workers will become critical in maintaining future economic growth, “employers have taken little action so far to prepare for this demographic transition,” General Accounting Office researchers wrote.

That?s why the GAO study, Older Workers: Demographic Trends Pose Challenges for Employers and Workers, urges the Labor Department to immediately form a study group to examine issues such as:

  • whether older workers run the risk of losing age-discrimination protection
  • what to do about older workers who might outlive their retirement savings by beginning benefits too early.

The study group, to be comprised of representatives of a number of federal agencies as well as unions and lobbying groups, should identify “sound policies to extend the work life of older Americans including those legal changes that would foster creative solutions to extending workers careers,” the GAO study said.

That’s particularly true in executive ranks. “Older workers will comprise a progressively larger number of our nation?s managers, supervisors, and executives,” the GAO said. “Employers will have to rely more heavily on this segment of the labor force, as their experience and “institutional knowledge” become an increasingly valuable resource.”

Read the study at