The National Council on Aging is calling on Congress to maximize workforce participation of workers 55 and older by protecting them from age discrimination and expanding job placement and training services.
In testimony April 29 before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, NCOA President & CEO Ramsey Alwin noted older adults in particular have felt the devastating impact of COVID-19 on their employment status.
“As of March, over 1.7 million older workers remain unemployed. The drop in employment among older workers of color was twice that of whites. If we are not intentional in targeting our policy solutions, the economic impact of these job losses will position too many older adults to age into poverty.”
The percentage of Americans aged 65 and over has increased 35% based on the latest U.S. Census data, and as longevity climbs and Americans struggle to save for retirement, work is essential to affording a longer life, the NCOA said in a press release.
NCOA is urging Congress to:
• Restore and strengthen age discrimination protections through new legislation.
• Increase annual funding and provide significant recovery investments in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Senior Community Service Employment Program — the only federal program dedicated to training and placing disadvantaged older adults into jobs.
• Prioritize older workers in workforce development programs.
• Provide caregiver support, family and medical leave, income support, and benefits access.
“Increased federal leadership also is needed,” Alwin said. “An Older Workers Bureau housed at the Labor Department could lead a focused effort across federal agencies to maximize older adults’ workforce participation, which would be good for older adults, employers and society.”