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https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Older Women in the Work Force The number of women workers 45 years of age and over has been increasing steadily. It rose to 8 million in 1957 and is expected to reach 10 million by 1965. At present, more than a third of all women workers are at least 45 years of age. These ·older women are a regular part of the work force. They measure up very well to the average of all women workers in productivity and in regularity of attendance. Many of them rate above average, especially in such qualities as reliability, judgment, and sense of responsibility. Yet when it comes to hiring a new worker, some employers still hesitate to select a woman over 45-or, perhaps, over 40 or even 35 years of age. The United States Department of Labor has been studying the employment problems of older workers, both men and women. It has surveyed their adjustment to labor-market practices in seven urban areas, their job performance, their status under collective bargaining and under private pension plans, and the counseling and placement services provided for them. It has found thatOlder women job seekers, in terms o J their job experience, have the most difficult problems o J obtaining continuous employment. This leaflet deals with some questions that employers ask about older women workers and offers a few suggestions for improving the situation. https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 2 Do Older Women Make Good Workers? Older workers, both men and women, have many traits that employers value. Firms that employ them rate older workers high in -the stability that comes with maturity. -responsibility and loyalty to the iob and to the employer. -steady work habits. One employer likes to have an older worker in every work group. He calls their influence on the group "unconscious supervision." -concentration on the iob. -regularity of attendance. In addition, once they know the job, older workers usually need little supervision. These are some of the comments given to Employment Service staff members making a survey of seven urban areas. Older workers represent countless years of rich and seasoned experience, judgment, and stability, and constitute an immensely valuable asset in the Nation's work force. -JOHN https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis M. CONVERY, Industrial Relations Division, National Association of Manufacturers, March 1957. 3 Why Do Older Women° Want To Work? Older women often want to work for a special reason, such as to -pay for major medical expenses of the family, or some other major expense. -send children to college. -support a dependent relative. -obtain social security protection. -be a useful member of the national economy. What About Pension PlansTHAT EXCLUDE OLDER WORKERS? Studies by the United States Department of Labor show that older women are less likely than other workers to be covered by private retirement plans. This is true, especially, in the case of -professional workers, -managerial employees, -salespersons, and -clerical workers. Firms with pension plans that exclude workers hired late in life often employ older women who are outside the plan. Many smaller firms with no retirement plans of their own also hire older women. To the worker whose primary interest is in adequate take-home pay, the job is more important than the pension. Especially if a married woman's husband is fully covered by social security plus a company pension system, she may prefer to receive her pay with as few deductions as possible. https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 4 THAT INCLUDE OLDER WORKERS? Usually the firm with a pension plan of its own can hire older workers in reasonable numbers and include them in the plan without excessive pension costs. This is the conclusion reached by the United States De_p artment of Labor as a result of its recent studies. Under the modern pension plans most popular today, the age at which a worker enters the plan makes little difference in ultimate costs to the firm. Benefits are scaled, as a rule, to length of service, level of earnings, or both service and earnings. As a result, the worker whose period of service before retirement is short generally receives a smaller benefit. Costs of providing retirement benefits for workers hired in youth and those hired at an older age; there!ore, tend to .be equalized. Some "package" plans provide not only retirement benefits but also group insurance. When group insurance against sickness and accidents not connected with employment covers all dependents and includes maternity benefits, older workers can be covered without undue cost. The reason for this is that this group has few dependents and low maternity rates. What About Social Security? Many older women job seekers have an unbroken work record. Others are returning to the work force after a period of years, or have worked intermittently or on a part-time basis. Some are looking for a paid job for the first time. https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 5 By hiring an older woman, therefore, an employer may make it possible for her to -obtain protection under old-age and survivors insurance for herself and her dependents, if she has not previously worked in covered employment. -increase her protection, if she is already insured; or at least keep her status current. If she is the wife or widow of an insured worker, she may be able to add substantially, through her own employment, to the benefits she will be entitled to receive. A married woman worker is entitled at retirement to benefits based either on her own account or on her husband's account, whichever gives the larger benefits. She cannot draw both. A part-time job, or even a temporary job, may serve to improve the social security status of an older woman, especially now that women workers with sufficient coverage are eligible for retirement (with a permanently reduced benefit) at 62 years of age. What Action Can Employers Take? Policy declarations adopted by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in 1957 include a statement on older workers, which applies to women as well as to men: ... many employers are becoming increasingly alert to the important contributions which older workers are making and can make to our Nation's productive effort. There still remains, however, a sizable reservoir of employable manpower among ... older workers which is not being fully utilized. https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 6 All employers are urged, therefore, to lend their support to the fullest ext-ent possible in providing satisfactory placement of . .. older workers in suitable, self-sustaining employment. Many employers are carrying out this policy by action along the following lines: -in hiring new workers, they emphasize ability to do the job, rather than an arbitrary age ceiling. -in assigning work, they place older workers where judgment and reliability count more than strength and agility. -in selecting workers for special training, they include older workers, both women an.d men, infair proportion. As a community service, many employers participate in Earning Opportunities Forums. These forums dramatize local shortages and womanpower resources by bringing together mature women job seekers, employment agencies, and employers. During 1956 and 1957, forums were held in Baltimore, Boston, Washington (D. C.), Seattle, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other cities. A Women's Bureau leaflet is sent on request to employers or community agencies interested in planning a forum. Where Can More Information Be Obtained? The Women's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor has issued a number of publications dealing with the employment of older women, and other bureaus of the Department have issued a number dealing with older workers, both men and women. Those listed here can be purchased from the Superintendent of Docu https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 7 ments, Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. Orders should be accompanied by check or money order. Bureau of Employment Security: Counseling and Placement Services for Older Workers. No. E152. 1956. 50 cents. Older Worker Adjustment to Labor Market Practices: .An Analysis of Experience in Seven Major Labor Markets. No. R151. 1956. $1.25. Pension Costs. No. E150. 1956. 25 cents. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment and Economic Status of Older Men and Women. Bull. No. 1213. 1957. 20 cents. Job Performance and Age: A study in measurement. Bull. No. 1203. 1956. 45 cents. Older Workers Under Collective Bargaining. 1956. Part I, Hiring, Retention, Job Termination. 25 cents. Part II, Health and Insurance Plans; Pension Plans. 25 cents. Women's Bureau: Employment of Older Women-an annotated bibliography on hiring practices, attitudes, work performance. 1957. 30 cents. How To Conduct an Earning Opportunities Forum in Your Community. Leaflet 25. 1956. 15 cents. Memo on Job Finding for the Mature Woman. Leaflet 13. 1955. 5 cents. "Older" Women as Office Workers. 25 cents. Bull. 248. 1953. Training Mature Women for Employment: The Story of 23 Local Programs. Bull. 256. Reprinted 1956. 25 cents. What a Community Can Do To Train Mature Women for Jobs. Leaflet 22. 1955. 5 cents. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U. S. Government Printing Office Washington 25, D. C.- Price 5 cents U. S GOVERNMENT PRIN11NG OFFICE : 1951-0-452382 https://fraser.stlouisfed.org Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis