As Baby Boomers Retire, Legislature to Launch “Experience Wave”

Assemblyman Englebright and Senator Golden to propose policy initiatives to help New York plan for workforce challenges
February 27, 2007

Albany, NY – Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator Martin Golden today announced that New York will be the first state in the nation to introduce a package of bills to establish the infrastructure needed to keep older Americans engaged in the workplace and civic life beyond traditional retirement age.

Designed to address the needs of an aging workforce, this legislation will remove barriers faced by older workers and the employers who need their skills, facilitate older worker training, and encourage older New Yorkers to engage in charitable services. These seven bills comprise a legislative package that other states can adapt for their own workforces.

“I am pleased to introduce this package of legislation with Senator Golden to jump start what is a very important process of addressing and planning for what the retirement of the baby boomers will mean to New York’s labor force.” said Assemblyman Steven Englebright. “The retirement of the baby boomers will place tremendous demands on businesses who will require a source of labor to fill retirement vacancies. Older adults who wish to stay at their jobs or be retrained for new jobs or second careers will challenge businesses and the state to adapt to these demographic changes. This package of bills puts this important issue on the map.”

“Last year, the first of the baby boom generation turned 60,” said Senate Aging Committee Chairman Marty Golden. “Even though many ‘officially’ retire at 65, the age that people stop working is no longer predictable. With this legislative package, New York will become a leader in planning for the demographic sea change by creating an environment that utilizes the expertise, experience, and knowledge that older workers possess. Miami Beach is a great place to visit – especially now – but most of us would all go crazy if all we had to do was sit on the sand and bake. If people stay healthy as they age and can still hold down a job, society should develop options for us and take advantage of our experience. Finally, we’re seeing some answers to our needs.”

Baby boomers, or people currently in mid life, represent over a quarter of the U.S population. Many aging baby boomers plan to continue working beyond age 65—some because they want to; others because they have to. Unfortunately, legal, financial, and institutional barriers inhibit older Americans’ pursuit of continued employment, education, or volunteer opportunities.

Initiatives that these bills would establish include:

  • Mature Worker Task Force (A.5565/S.3058), which would create a 19-member task force in the State Office for the Aging to identify and address legal provisions that may limit opportunities for mature workers; identify best practices in the private sector for hiring, retaining and retraining mature workers; serve as a clearinghouse for such information; and assess the effectiveness and cost of programs that the state has implemented to hire, retain and retrain mature workers.
  • Senior Volunteer / Real Property Tax (RPT) Abatement (A.947-A), which would provide local governments the option of offering a RPT exemption for home owners who participate in a volunteer program and whose income does not exceed the median income for the county.
  • Mature Worker Employment Training Program (A.5566/S.3060), which would provide resources to employment training service providers selected through a competitive process.
  • Mature Worker Business Initiative (A.5567/S.3061), which would develop protocols for certifying businesses as “older-worker-friendly” and implement a marketing and outreach plan for encouraging the participation of businesses in this program.
  • Centers for Lifelong Learning (A.5568/S.3062), to be located at community and four-year colleges, that would focus on the educational needs of adults 50 years of age or older who are seeking to pursue meaningful work.
  • Intergenerational Mentoring (A.5564/S.3059), which would offer adults 55 years of age and older training and placement in tutoring, mentoring, and other educational support positions for youth.
  • Representation on the Workforce Investment Board (A.3234/S.948) adds two representatives to the workforce investment board for the purpose of taking into account the challenges older workers face
  • Two additional bills would allow adults 60 years of age or older to take State University of New York (SUNY) courses for credit without tuition (A.4820/S.2510) and to also audit City University of New York (CUNY) courses (A.888)

“As president and CEO of the Community Service Society, I represent the organization where the original RSVP program was founded and flourishes,” said David R. Jones. “CSS has a long history of engaging older adults in volunteer services. Although it has been replicated across the country and abroad, our RSVP program is unique in its size, its longevity, and its engagement of people of color. We cannot lose sight of the fact that volunteer programs must engage not only the well-educated and well-to-do. One of our priorities should be engaging older adults at the lower income level. We need to create incentive programs that are appropriate for older adults, ones that combine service with skills acquisition. And it is crucial that these programs include stipends that allow people of limited economic means the opportunity to participate. They are a critical factor in community stability and revitalization.”

“As the Federal Reserve Bank of New York [Buffalo Branch] reported last summer,” said Assemblyman Englebright, “upstate New York will feel the need for new workers sooner. That region’s population is older and has aged more rapidly than the national average, largely because younger adults are moving away in increasingly large numbers. These bills will help New York reap the experience of older workers to meet community needs.”

Turning 65 in 2007:

  • Michael Bloomberg Feb. 14
  • Phil Esposito Feb. 20
  • Aretha Franklin March 25
  • Erica Jong March 26
  • Barbra Streisand April 24
  • Paul McCartney June 18
  • Harrison Ford July 13
  • Isaac Hayes Aug. 20