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Plus 50 Trends 2011 
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Plus 50 Trends - 2011

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America’s Opportunity: The Potential of an Aging Society
National Academy on an Aging Society
This report looks at the future of aging by reviewing 50 years of history gathered by the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  The 32-page report highlights trends of the last 50 years, and examines future challenges and opportunities present for today’s older adults.  In the report leading authorities examine housing policy, older workers, societal adaptation, and intergenerational cohesion.

The Older Population: 2010
Census Bureau
If you’ve ever needed detailed statistics about the aging generation, look no further.  This brief gathers census data specific to the 65-plus crowd and presents it by place, county, state and region.  Some highlights of the brief include the fact that the 65-plus population grew at a faster rate than the total population in the first decade of the 21st century (15.1 percent to 9.7 percent respectively).  Another new trend found was the rapid growth of 65-plus males in the older age category.  While females continue to outnumber males in this age group, the males made significant strides in closing that gap.

The 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey: Confidence Drops to Record Lows, Reflecting “the New Normal”
Employee Benefit Research Institute
The 21st wave of the Retirement Confidence Survey finds that Americans’ confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement has plunged to a new low.  However, instead of making fundamental adjustments to their spending and saving patterns, workers continue to change their expectations about how they will transition from work to retirement in what some are calling the age of “the new normal.” There is a strong correlation between those with low confidence and the income they currently generate, as well as the amount of money they and/or their partner have already saved for retirement.  One especially disturbing finding is that a sizable percentage of workers report they have virtually no savings or investments. Of this group, 29 percent say they have less than $1,000. In total, more than half of the workers (56 percent) report that the total value of their household’s savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home, is less than $25,000.  Not surprising, the age many expect to retire has risen significantly.  In 1991 only 11 percent of seniors expected to work past age 65, whereas in 2011 that number had risen to 36 percent.

Changing Expectations about Retirement
Employee Benefit Research Institute
Over the past few years many American workers have begun to question their ability to secure a financially comfortable retirement.  How, if at all, are workers adjusting their expectations about retirement to compensate?  Many (21%) say they are planning on postponing retirement.  Most cited the poor economy (36%), lack of faith in Social Security/government (16%) and a change in their employment situation (15%) as reasons for putting retirement off.  In addition to postponing full-time retirement, a whopping 74% of workers said they plan to continue some kind work for pay once they have retired from their full-time jobs.

Women's Retirement Risks
The Urban Institute -- This web page features a six-minute video and commentary about the retirement risks facing women.

American Community Survey
U.S. Census Bureau -- This website provides findings from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) covering more than 40 topics, such as age, educational attainment, income, and employment.  These data are available in detailed tables for the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more.

The MetLife Study of Women, Retirement and the Extra-Long Life
MetLife Mature Market Institute -- This national survey of 1,007 retired and employed men and women ages 50 to 70 explored behaviors and attitudes related to retirement planning with a particular focus on planning for unexpected expenses and life events in retirement. In-depth structured interviews were also conducted with 50 individuals and couples for additional experiences and personal insights. Women in the U.S. live extra-long lives (8% longer than men on average), and these “bonus” years may be a blessing of extra living, but also have their costs, including that women’s resources must last an extra-long time. Women's lives are also extra-complicated by some very particular susceptibilities and risks.

Counting the Hidden Assets: First Steps in Assessing the Impact of Community College Noncredit Education Programs on the Workforce and Local Economies
Community College Research Center -- More than 11 million students enroll annually in community college programs that advance the goals of a well-prepared workforce: strengthening basic academic skills, such as reading and math; earning an associate degree; gaining certification in an industry or discipline; or meeting the specific training needs of a partnering company. In this age of accountability, community colleges need to demonstrate that they are meeting or exceeding performance goals using measures that allow accurate, apples-to-apples evaluation of programs based on nationally recognized standards. Currently, however, there is no standard national measurement of the direct educational and economic benefits of noncredit courses to their communities, so they are not systematically evaluated. The lack of relevant and appropriate measures leaves vast holes in policymakers’ understanding of the scope, impact and effectiveness of the work of community colleges. This paper makes the case for the training hour as the basic unit of measurement and proposes a taxonomy to classify and describe the range of noncredit activities delivered by community colleges based on three levels of outcomes: (1) focus of outcomes, (2) who benefits from the outcomes and (3) application of outcomes.

Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession
Government Accountability Office -- Since 2007, unemployment rates doubled and remained higher than before the recession for workers aged 55 and older. While these rates were not as high as for other age groups, of more concern is that once older workers lose their jobs they are less likely to find other employment. In fact, the median duration of unemployment for older workers rose sharply from 2007 to 2010, more than tripling for workers 65 and older and increasing to 31 weeks from 11 weeks for workers aged 55 to 64. In addition, the proportion of older part-time workers who indicated they would prefer full-time work nearly doubled.

Most Baby Boomers Expect to Work After 65: Poll
CBS Evening News -- According to a poll by the Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com, a website for the middle-aged, among baby boomers, 73% plan to work past retirement - a number that's up six percent since March 2011. For many people, economic  pressures and the downturned economy are keeping them on the job longer.

The Uneven Aging and "Younging" of America: State and Metropolitan Trends in the 2010 Census
Brookings -- America is beginning to show its age as the baby boomer generation advances in age. But the pace of this aging will vary widely across the national landscape due to noticeable geographic shifts in the younger population, with implications for health care, transportation, and housing, and possible impacts upon our ability to forge societal consensus. Due to baby boomers "aging in place," the population age 45 and over grew 18 times as fast as the population under age 45 between 2000 and 2010. All states and metropolitan areas are showing noticeable growth in their older and "advanced middle age" populations which, for the first time, comprise a majority of the nation's voting-age population. Areas experiencing the fastest senior (age 65+) growth are located in the Sun Belt, while areas with the highest concentrations of seniors are located primarily in Florida, the Northeast, and the Midwest. Yet baby boom generation "pre-seniors," now just turning 65, are growing rapidly in all areas of the country due to aging in place. College towns such as Austin, Raleigh, Provo, and Madison are among those where pre-seniors are growing fastest. Suburbs are aging more rapidly than cities with higher growth rates for their age-45-and-above populations and larger shares of seniors. People age 45 and older represent 40% of suburban residents, compared to 35% of city residents.

Subcommittee Hearing - The Recession and Older Americans: Where Do We Go from Here
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging -- This hearing examined the impact of the 2007-2009 recession on older Americans. Testimony provided by a 61 year old, the Government Accountability Office, Syracuse University and Social Security Works, the National Council on Aging, and the Institute for Women's Policy Research are available for download.

Modernizing the Older Americans Act
Age4Action -- To explore the extent to which a revitalized Older Americans Act, can help meet the needs and challenges of the 21st Century presented by a large plus 50 population, Age4Action conducted a nationwide fact-finding and listening initiative in which it held a series of Idea Forums in six U.S. cities. Based on findings from the Idea Forums, this Age4Action report provides recommendations for how the Older Americans Act can help plus 50 adults who want to make contributions as dynamic advocates, valued workers, committed volunteers, lifelong learners, and respected leaders. The Forums drew more than 700 participants and used surveys, testimonies, and discussions to produce many important findings and promising ideas. Heather Ellison, Plus 50 Director at St. Louis Community College, provided testimony at the forum held in St. Louis.

What is the Average Retirement Age?
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College -- This policy brief examines labor force trends for those under and over age 65 for the last century.  The first section describes the long-running decline in labor force participation by men. The second looks at the turnaround that began in the mid-1980s. The third section discusses the trends for women, which combine their increasing labor force activity, on the one hand, and incentives to retire, on the other. The final section concludes that labor force activity of both men and women has increased significantly since the mid-1980s as many incentives now encourage work. Several hurdles remain to continued increases, however, including the sluggish economic recovery, the move away from career employment, the availability of Social Security at 62, and employer resistance to part-time employment.

Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update - The Economic Value of Family Caregiving in 2009
AARP -- Family caregivers provided care valued at $450 billion dollars in 2009, notes this policy brief. A helpful chart lists the number of caregivers and the value of their work, by state.

The Elephant in the Room: Age Discrimination in Employment
National Seniors Australia -- In Australia, there is a painful gap between laws against age discrimination, and the practice of age discrimination. The thrust of this report is that awareness of age discrimination law leads often to nimble side-stepping – compliance with the letter rather than the spirit of the law. Recruitment advertisements no longer mention age, but resort to euphemisms. Where complaints of age discrimination have been made, in many cases complainants received only an apology. Very few people refused a job were subsequently offered that job, and compensatory payments were usually low. The effect of discrimination on older workers is often devastating. The case studies and personal accounts reveal the harrowing experience of older workers who have felt the weight of age discrimination and rejection. The policy implications emphasize that age discrimination cannot be ignored, even if it has become less overt, and more efforts are needed to overcome it.

Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options
Transportation for America -- By 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation "ages in place" in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive. This report ranks metro areas by the percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation, now and in the coming years, and presents other data on aging and transportation.

Women's Retirement Risks
The Urban Institute -- This web page features a six-minute video and commentary about the retirement risks facing women.

Boomer Bust 2011: Still Unprepared and Unaware
Volunteers of America -- This white paper by the Volunteers of America presents the results of a nationwide survey Viewpoint into how the elderly and their caregivers are faring during the economic downturn. The survey found that the majority of Americans significantly underestimate the amount of savings they will need to finance their future long-term care needs, and that caregivers are sacrificing their own financial futures to help care for older loved ones.

The Elder Economic Security Standard Index
Wider Opportunities for Women -- The Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index) is a measure of economic security for older adults developed by Wider Opportunities for Women in collaboration with the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The Elder Index benchmarks basic costs of living for elder households. It illustrates how costs of living vary geographically and are based on the characteristics of elder households: household size, housing status (homeownership or renter), transportation and health status. The costs are for basic needs of elder households; they are based on market costs and assume no subsidies. The Elder Index, with its respective "tracks" for seniors living in different circumstances, shows how elders with low- and moderate-incomes are challenged to cover their living costs today. In addition, it illustrates how seniors with moderate and somewhat higher incomes may be prepared for the present, yet face an uncertain future when living costs outpace their incomes, or when costs rise markedly as their life circumstances change.

The Elder Economic Security Initiative
Wider Opportunities for Women -- The Elder Economic Security Initiative™ is an exciting new initiative that seeks to build economic security for older adults through a multi-pronged approach that includes organizing, advocacy and research. The Initiative enables policy makers, aging advocates and others to develop policies and programs to help seniors age with dignity while promoting their economic security. A key component of the initiative is the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index, a measure of well-being that determines the income and supports needed for older adults to live modestly depending on their health and life circumstances.