Study Shows Gap for Low-Income Workers

By Kleyman, Paul | Aging Today, January/February 2009 | Go to article overview
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Study Shows Gap for Low-Income Workers


Kleyman, Paul, Aging Today


"The high projected growth in the older labor force over the coming decade will likely intensify labor market problems of the less educated s nd less literate members of the older worker population," predicts a recent report for Senior Service America Inc. (SSAI), one of the agencies that assists low-income older adults age 55 or older thro ugh the federal Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

The research, conducted by Andrew Sum and colleagues at the Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University in Boston, examined unmet needs of the national pool of older workers eligible for SCSEP job training and employment services.

"The severe recession demands that the federal government provide more jobs as well as training to older workers," said SSAI executive director Anthony Sarmiento. "Our study shows that SCSEP and other federal workforce programs now serve an alarmingly tiny fraction of older job seekers. Expanding SCSEP would give direct and immediate help to more low-income seniors in need of work by giving them temporary jobs in local agencies like Meals on Wheels, which are also being hit hard by this recession."

The report's authors found that the substantial growth in the U.S. 55-plus population "will likely be accompanied by a sharp rise in the SCSEP income eligible population in this age group." A disproportionately large share of elders eligible for SCSEP, they stress, will be older black and Latino workers. To qualify for SCSEP, older adults must have incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty line.

The researchers focused on scsep eligibles ages 55-74-less than 80,000 program participants throughout the United States. That compares with more than 9 million Americans of that age who could have qualified for the program in 2007, says the study-114 times the number of those actually served by the program.

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