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U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd)

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd)

Support older workers, Newman says

From staff reports

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd) recently joined three Democratic House colleagues in introducing the Supporting Older Workers Act, a new bill designed to improve and advance the employment, economic success and the well-being of America’s older workers.

Newman said the legislation would strengthen the workforce development system for older workers and reduce current barriers in the labor market by improving career counseling and training opportunities, creating a grant program to support older worker coordinators and establishing a new Older Workers Bureau at the Department of Labor (DOL).

MarieNewman2021

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd)

“Last year saw more older Americans leave the workforce than at any time in the past seven decades,” Newman said in a statement. “This pandemic has created an undue burden on the shoulders of older workers, especially older low-income workers, and it’s past time Congress steps up to provide them with the supports they need and deserve. By passing the Supporting Older Workers Act, we can lift up an essential part of America’s workforce through more counseling, job trainings, grant opportunities and dedicated coordinators who will help ensure our older Americans thrive in their jobs.”

Due to the economic downturn surrounding the pandemic, last year saw more workers age 65 and older leave the labor force than in any year since 1948 when the U.S. began tracking this information.

Older workers who are unemployed typically take twice as long as younger individuals to find new employment, and often enter jobs with significantly lower wages than their previous job.

To address these workforce disparities, the Supporting Older Workers Act is designed to:

  • Improve career counseling and training for older workers: The bill would allow localities to use federal funding to focus on older workers’ employment options and training needs and create specialized centers for older workers at local American Jobs Centers.
  • Create a grant program to support older worker coordinators: The legislation would create a grant program for state and local workforce boards to hire special coordinators, who will promote the employment and workforce development of older workers and coordinate with labor organizations, Area Agencies on Aging, community colleges, non-profits and more to cultivate supportive services for older workers.
  • Establish an Older Workers Bureau at the Department of Labor: Similar to the Women’s Bureau at the DOL, the bill would create an Older Workers Bureau that is designed to advance employment, economic success, and well-being of older individuals through policy development, research and reporting, and technical assistance.

A number of organizations released statements endorsing the Supporting Older Workers Act.

“Similar to the Great Recession, older workers have lost jobs in massive numbers during the pandemic economic downturn, and struggle with long-term unemployment at rates greater than their younger counterparts. Millions more have abandoned the job search entirely and opted for early retirement, putting their already tenuous financial security at risk in their later years. Now is the time to make substantive changes in the programs and systems that help Americans return to work, particularly older adults,” said Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging. “On behalf of the National Council on Aging, I applaud Rep. Newman for her leadership on the Supporting Older Workers Act, to bring high-level, substantive federal attention to the challenges and opportunities of an aging workforce, and incentivize state and local targeting and innovation to meet the needs of older workers. We urge Congress to incorporate these proposals in upcoming workforce development policymaking.”

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