SecondAct Asks: Will Obama Jobs Plan Help Older Workers?
President Obama never uttered the words "older workers" while outlining his much-anticipated jobs plan in a Thursday night address to Congress. But the proposed American Jobs Act includes several measures that would help people over 40, especially those who have lost jobs and been unable to re-enter the workforce.
Congress still has to weigh the president's $447 billion plan. But if the plan is adopted, the provisions most likely to assist mid-career workers include extending tax breaks and unemployment insurance and providing incentives to small businesses that hire the long-term unemployed and veterans. The jobs plan also includes low-interest mortgage refinancing and a "Pathways to Work" program to help the unemployed -- including older jobs seekers -- pick up new skills while continuing to receive unemployment checks.
To gain a better perspective on the president's proposal, SecondAct put this question to policy analysts, recruiters, nonprofit executives and other experts on aging and work: "Will the Obama jobs plan help people over 40?"
Here are their responses:
1. Timothy C. Hamre, aging workforce expert, National Council on Aging, the Washington D.C., advocacy group
"Many older workers have a long work history in industries or occupations that no longer exist. Changing to a new industry or occupation is not an easy thing to do, but is often necessary to become employed again. Anything that assists older workers in this process will benefit them and their communities. The bill also contains tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. We often think of this group as being veterans from conflicts in the past decade, but there are Vietnam Era veterans unemployed and seeking work. This will hopefully help them as well."
2. Michael W. Hodin, executive director, Global Coalition on Aging and an adjunct senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
"The president's proposals are about short term fixes. We also need to look at the underlying structural issues over the next two decades, central among them America's aging population."
(He talks more about the jobs plan in this blog post at The Fiscal Times.)
3. Mary Bleiberg, executive director of ReServe Inc., a New York City nonprofit that matches retired professionals with part-time jobs at government agencies
"People want to join ReServe and perform (paid) service work so they can learn a new career, but they can't if they're receiving unemployment benefits. So the Pathways to Work program would be incredibly important. The other things that will benefit older workers are payroll tax cuts and credits for employers who hire the long-term unemployed. It will encourage them to hire or not fire older workers. A big problem has been small businesses let go older workers because they were higher paid. But older workers don't have many options. They can't live with mom and dad or take another internship, they have obligations, including taking care of mom and dad. I think they will figure out a way to get back into the workforce. They won't be rebuilding our bridges. But I do think this will help."
4. Art Koff, founder of RetiredBrains, an online job board and retirement resource center for people 50 and older
"I heard nothing specifically directed at older workers other than a mention at the beginning of his remarks that Americans are postponing retirement. This shows he recognizes Americans must work longer. I continue to believe the best opportunities for older workers are in part time and temporary employment and project assignments. This works for those who are 65 and older, as they are on Medicare, but is less than ideal for workers between 40 and 64 as many need benefits and particularly health care coverage."
5. Bruce Frankel, author of What Should I Do With The Rest Of My Life?
"People over 50 are a disproportionately large segment of the long-term unemployed. The payroll incentive for hiring the long-term unemployed would have a direct impact on them because it would increase their possibilities of getting hired. The biggest stakeholders in homes overwhelmed by debt are probably people over 40. Letting homeowners refinance mortgages at 4 percent would clearly help those in distress. It would also help support the housing market, and as has often been noted, real recovery can't begin until the housing market begins to recover."
6. Jonscott Turco, a job-search expert and human-resources management consultant with BPI Group in New York
"It will keep safe the Medicare and Medicaid benefits of those over 40 who will need (the programs) in the future, while adapting them today to be fiscally responsible. What was missing is the specific funding of programs that will drive job creation for folks in the middle class. How will those unemployed or underemployed benefit from these new initiatives? That is the question that is yet unanswered."
Join this discussion: Will the proposed jobs plan help people over 40? Please leave a comment.
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