Posts Tagged “mature age”


Susan Ryan

Was I the only person in Australia who congratulated Treasurer Joe Hockey on his observation that the first person to live to 150 might already be born?

Not only have medical scientists confirmed the comment, the shock value of contemplating our 150th birthdays should have had all economists, employers, business chiefs and mid-age individuals  focusing seriously on how to extend the working life of most Australians. Moving towards a stage where 70 rather than 60 becomes the average retirement age is what our economy needs, and what older people themselves are often seeking.

Health experts constantly remind us that the working older person is healthier than the non-working older person, and happier. These realities should provide a constructive context for the appearance of the Intergenerational Report. The IGRs, and we are up to our fourth, set out the long-term budget implications of ever-rising numbers of individuals living for more years on the age pension and public health, over a period where the proportion of the working population younger than 65 is declining.

The expenditures as predicted are unsustainable, but they are not inevitable. Obvious and realistic policy change would pull the figures into better balance, into “sustainability”. The objective of changing the ratios by increasing the numbers of older workers should be in this conversation from the beginning.

With past IGRs, positive policy opportunities have been drowned by waves of negativity about the unadorned outlook figures. The last Intergenerational Report spoke only of the “risks” and “challenges” of our ageing population, and the dramatic reduction of the proportion of those of working age to support those older than 65. It highlighted the pressures on health spending in relation to the ageing population.

It implied and was widely interpreted as insisting that all those older than 65 are in need of substantial and growing public support. It set up a dichotomy between younger/older as good/bad. It implied that ageing only meant illness, decline and burdening the public purse. The economic potential of older people was ignored. This approach perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes of older people and obstructs the development of a policy approach where younger and older generations can work co-operatively.

Why are individuals leaving paid work at 60, or often earlier, rather than 70? Even if they are more likely to live to 100 instead of 150, four decades without earned income and the satisfaction of work is too many. Age discrimination in employment is a huge barrier preventing older Australians from continuing in the workforce. One in five unemployed people older than 45 report that their main difficulty in finding work is that they are considered too old by employers. We know that one in 10 business respondents have an age above which they will not recruit – the average age is 50 years.

We also know that helping older people participate would boost our economy. Deloitte Access Economics research shows that increasing the number of Australians older than 55 in paid employment by 5% would result in a $48 billion impact on the national economy.

This can happen. The percentage of the people aged 55-64 in the workforce in Australia is 61.5 per cent, and has remained stable since 2012. Compare this to New Zealand, where the percentage is 74.4 per cent. Since 2012 Australia has dropped from 11th to 13th place for workforce participation of older workers among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development  countries.

The longer people work, the more superannuation they will have. The IGR is an opportunity to review the longer-term effects of the current application of tax benefits for super.

Like other “too hard basket” changes, this policy should be brought out of the basket and included in the discussion. Tax-favoured superannuation was originally introduced so that more people could achieve independence in retirement. What is the public policy purpose of continuing the provision of substantial tax benefits well beyond the point where individuals have achieved the means to support a high standard of living in retirement? Might not those tax benefits be better redirected to those whose retirement savings fall well below an adequate standard and who have only the age pension in prospect?

Providing age pension benefits to increasing numbers of individuals who possess well in excess of the means for a very comfortable retirement might not be best practice in targeting welfare dollars. Requiring high-net-worth individuals to make a larger contribution to the costs of their aged care could be in the interests of improved fairness and efficiency and improved quality of care.

I hope the Treasurer’s release of the IGR data will bring into focus some realistic and purposeful discussion around these policy directions.

I see this Intergenerational Report as an important opportunity to present what could happen if we stopped age discrimination and increased the participation of older workers. Rather than emphasising doom, gloom and negative stereotypes, I urge the Treasurer to show what would happen if we mitigated the worst-case scenario by leading the world in employment practices that embrace fairness and improved opportunity for older workers through flexibility, retraining, and intergenerational initiatives.

We all understand the population is ageing. Surely now we are ready to have a conversation about how to realise the economic and social potential this longevity represents.

Susan Ryan is Age Discrimination Commissioner.

Source:  SMH


Tuesday, 24 February 2015
50 is the new 40: Why SMEs should consider an older workforce

We all understand the population is ageing, and while comments by treasurer Joe Hockey that the first person to live to 150 may have already been born attracted some derision, it should come as no surprise. What is less easy to understand is the curious paradox that, as the workforce ages, the age at which workers are being labelled by organisations and recruiters as “old” is getting younger.

The way that many organisations and those recruiting for organisations construct old age is very different to the way that the authors of the soon-to-be-released Intergenerational Report are likely to construct older age. Our research into the management of age in organisations has found overwhelmingly that employees over the age of 45 self-identify as older. Further, there is a general sense amongst organisational decision makers that if you haven’t “made it” by the age of 40 you aren’t going to “make it” at all.

Declaring that you must have made it by 40 not only ignores the huge potential of people in their 50s, 60s and 70s, but it also doesn’t account for the fact that many women and men are ready to hit their stride in their 50s. Relieved of the heavy lifting responsibilities of parenting, they are able to devote themselves to their careers and to their employers.

Some companies have managed to see this potential and are beginning to think creatively about what having an older workforce profile means and how they can leverage its opportunities for increased productivity and innovation.
The advent of the corporation in the early and mid-twentieth century created a prototypical career/life cycle in which youth meant education, adulthood meant work and old age meant retirement. This may have served bureaucratic corporations of the past because it provided order and calculability to those who passed through it.

However, it is an out-dated way of thinking for the modern corporation Much of the discourse in the lead-up to the release of the Intergenerational Report pits old against young. Older people are constructed as an economic burden and younger people as resentful and angry. Yet our research into intergenerational relations in organisations found high levels of respect between younger and older people.

In particular, we found that younger employees greatly respected the knowledge and resilience that their older co-workers brought to their work. As the workforce ages and people stay in work longer, there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on the diversity of ideas, customer segments and product markets that an intergenerational workforce can open up to an organisation. Our research with a global engineering firm showed that the most innovative divisions were the ones in which teams were configured to include a broad range of ages, from new graduates to experienced workers over the age of 65. Respondents reporting learning from one another, and the shared experience flowed both ways. In these teams, the notion of experience wasn’t limited to time served, nor was it seen to expire once people had reached a certain age.

Words do matter. The way that we talk about age in organisations affects both internal employee engagement and also recruitment strategies. Those older and younger than the magic age of 35 to 45 often receive an unintended but powerful message that they have less to contribute to the organisation, and report lower levels of workplace engagement as a result. The language organisations use in their general marketing and specifically in their recruitment can send unintended signals that those over 45 need not apply.

One organisation we worked with wanted to recruit people 45 and older but was having trouble attracting candidates. We could show them that the wording of their job advertisements, “join a vibrant team that works hard and plays hard” and “working space is fresh and funky” was unintentionally signalling that older candidates were not welcome. We encouraged them to highlight aspects of the job that are most important to older workers: recognition of skills, work and life experience; the culture and values of the organisation; and the opportunity to learn new things. This last one is important because it is perhaps the most pervasive yet blatantly false stereotype about ageing. We don’t stop wanting to learn new things as we age.

If the fourth Intergenerational Report is to have the impact that the government, policy makers and employees of all ages are hoping it will, then it is business that needs to take the lead in re-imagining careers, shifting to an age-inclusive culture and establishing the organisational structures whereby employees of all generations can work with, for and alongside one another. Our prosperity and productivity as a nation relies on it.

Source:  SmartCompany 

Date:  February 21, 2015 
Ross Gittins

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor

Illustration: Glen Le Lievre.

Illustration: Glen Le Lievre.

The trouble with the way the media report developments in the labour market from one month to the next is that we don’t get a sense of the major shifts that occur over time.

So today let’s take a much longer view, examining the trends over, say, the two decades from 1993 to 2013. We’ll do so with help from an article by Professors Roger Wilkins and Mark Wooden, of the Melbourne Institute, published in the latest issue of the Australian Economic Review.

Note that this period covers most of the continuous economic upswing since the severe recession of the early 1990s. So most of the trends are reasonably good. It’s true, however, that we were knocked off track briefly by the global financial crisis of 2008-09 and in more recent years have suffered a slow deterioration in unemployment as the economy makes heavy weather of the end of the mining investment boom.

But that’s getting ahead of the story. Actually, it’s such a long story that today I’ll limit it to the side that gets least attention from the media, changes in the supply of labour. It’s best measured by changes in the “participation rate” – the proportion of the population of working age who are participating in the labour market by making their labour available, either by having a job or actively seeking one.

Taken overall, the “part rate” increased pretty strongly until 2008, when it began falling back. But all of this overall increase is explained by the increased participation of women, particularly those of prime age, 25 to 54.

There’s been a long-term slow decline in the participation of men. It’s explained partly by young males staying longer in the education system but mainly by older workers retiring earlier – voluntarily or otherwise.

But here’s where the story gets complicated. The trend to earlier retirement turned around at about the turn of the century, with participation by both men and women aged 55 and over rising significantly.

Got that? Now try this. Although more people are retiring later, the part rate reached a peak in 2008, has fallen since then and is likely to continue falling for years yet. Why? Because of the ageing of the population.

The trick is that even if the part rate is now rising in older age groups, population ageing means that an ever-rising proportion of the labour force is in those older age groups, whose rates of participation will always be a lot lower than the rates for people of prime age.

To show the significance of this ageing effect, the authors calculate that if the age structure of the population in 2013 was the same as in 1993, the overall part rate would be 2.2 percentage points higher than it actually is.

However, we do have some scope to moderate this demography-driven decline in participation. Wilkins and Wooden note that the rates of participation for 55 to 64-year-olds are between 7 and 14 percentage points higher in New Zealand than they are in Oz. If the Kiwis can do it, what’s to stop us doing it?

The part rate covers the quantity of people willing to supply their labour, but there’s also the question of changes in the quality of the labour being supplied.

The past 20 years have seen a big improvement in the skills – education and training – of the labour force, with the proportion of university graduates more than doubling from 12 per cent to 28 per cent. The proportion with any post-secondary qualification rose from less than 46 per cent to more than 62 per cent.

By the way, it’s likely that the continuing rise in women’s participation is largely explained by the dramatic increase in females’ academic attainment. The higher men and women’s level of education, the greater the likelihood they’ll be in the labour force – exploiting the commercial value of their skills – and the less the likelihood of them being unemployed.

Of course, another part of the labour supply story is immigrant workers. Immigration has long been a major source of additional labour and today accounts for more than a fifth of the labour force. What’s changed is that throughout the last century most migrants came on permanent visas, whereas today most come on temporary visas.

In March last year there were almost 900,000 people on temporary visas with work rights, including more than 200,000 on “457 visas” for skilled people and about 370,000 on student visas. If all these people actually participated they’d amount to 7 per cent of the labour force, the authors estimate.

Separate to this were almost 650,000 people on the special visas for New Zealanders, some of whom will prove to be only temporary residents. (Don’t forget Aussies have reciprocal rights to work in Kiwiland.)

We now grant about 125,000 457 visas a year and about 100,000 student visas a year. This compares with about 130,000 old-style permanent visas a year to skilled immigrants, many of which are given to people already here on temporary visas.

The authors observe that the shift towards temporary migration has probably had a big effect on the labour market.

“The availability of a flexible skilled immigrant workforce that can respond to changes in labour demand relatively quickly is likely to have improved the operation of the labour market, especially from an employer perspective,” they say.

Oh. Yes. To me the main drawback is not so much that employers may not try hard enough to find local workers to fill jobs, or that the availability of this external supply may limit to some extent the rise in skilled wages, but that it reduces employers’ incentive go to the bother of training young workers.

Still, we mustn’t forget that, these days, the economy is run for the benefit of business, not the rest of us.

Ross Gittins is the economics editor. Twitter: @1RossGittins

Source:  Sydney Morning Herald

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jobless stock
 ‘The issue for the 800,000 people currently unemployed should be more about the policy response and not politics.’ Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP

The new year has kicked off on a sour note for the economy with the unemployment rate jumping to 6.4%, the highest in 12 years.

For the past decade, Australia got used to having the unemployment rate around 5%, plus or minus a percentage point, depending on the nature of the positive and negative shocks that hit the economy and the policy response to those shocks.

The gurus at the Reserve Bank of Australia and treasury expect the unemployment rate to rise in the near terms and stay above 6% for several more years, even though interest rates are at record lows and the Australian dollar has fallen by 30% over the past three years.

The causes of the recent spike in the unemployment rate must be understood if it is to ever fall back to 5% or less.

In very broad terms, there are two important determinants of the unemployment rate: the pace of economic growth and wages. There are other drivers including education, skills, demographics, social welfare, but these are more medium-term issues that have probably not been significant factors behind the recent bad news on unemployment.

It is difficult to make a case that it is wages or labour market inflexibility that is behind the recent jump in unemployment. Wages growth has slowed markedly, to levels not seen for at least 40 years. The labour market, through these miserably low levels of wages growth, is adjusting to changing circumstances. In time, these flat or falling real wages will mean demand for labour will be higher than if wages growth was stronger. What is more, unit labour costs are actually falling, which is evidence that employers are not finding wages costs to be a major factor when it comes to hiring new staff.

The problem for unemployment is quite obviously the pace of economic growth. There is simply not enough economic activity in the economy to stop a significant part of the increase in population growth going straight into unemployment rather than being taken up in employment.

Given the mix of population growth, productivity and the composition of the Australian economy, annual real GDP growth needs to be maintained at around 3.25% for there to be enough jobs created to keep the unemployment rate steady. This is what many refer to as the long-run trend growth rate for Australia.

When the December quarter 2014 national accounts are released in early March, they will confirm that real GDP growth has been below 3.25% for nine consecutive quarters (over two years) and in that time has averaged just 2.4%. In other words, for those two years, the economy has fallen around 0.75% short a year of the growth rate needed to keep the unemployment rate steady, let alone push it lower. It is no surprise given this weak economic performance that the unemployment rate has risen by more than 1 percentage point.

The solution, it should be obvious, is to have in place policies that will fire up the economy so that GDP growth can be at least 3.5% for a couple of years so that the unemployment rate can fall back.

The RBA is doing its bit, cutting interest rates to record lows, but is mindful of having monetary policy inflating unwelcome house price gains.

With the budget three months away and the labour market weakness now entrenched, the case for job-creating fiscal stimulus should be considered. The treasurer, Joe Hockey, is speaking of bringing forward expenditure on infrastructure projects, which history shows is cumbersome and slow to deliver the economic growth needed to make a meaning impact on employment. There is also discussion about tax cuts for small business which, again, are long-run issues and unlikely to be implemented before July, a point when the unemployment rate is likely to be 6.75%.

Of course, if the Abbott government were to consider any other stimulus measures, it would be breaking more promises as, by definition, stimulus measures mean a larger budget deficit and higher levels of government debt. The Coalition was swept to power in 2013 on a promise to return the budget to surplus and reduce government debt.

The issue for the 800,000 people currently unemployed should be more about the policy response and not politics. If politics win out and the policy settings err on the side of moving the budget towards surplus and cutting government debt, it is likely that by the time of the next election in the second half of next year, there will be more than 900,000 unemployed. This is not the sort of legacy that in the heat of an election campaign would be easy to defend.

Stephen Koukoulas is a research fellow at Per Capita, a progressive thinktank.


Source:  The Guardian

Evidence of discrimination against older workers at Centennial Coal will be presented to the Senate Economic References Committee for the Inquiry into the Privatisation of State and Territory Assets and New Infrastructure in Sydney, today.

(Image on the right) Catherine Bolger and Belinda Giblin, Collieries Staff and Officers Association standing behind Same Dastyari and Jacquie Lambie at today’s Senate Inquiry.

IMG_0404The Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association (CSOA) will present evidence that shows the negative impact privatisation has had on local jobs and older workers, particularly in rural and regional communities.

Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association Director Catherine Bolger said the experience of workers at Centennial Coal, brought into “sharp focus the implications and problems that stem from privatisation”.

In 2006 the former State-owned Powercoal mines were bought by Centennial Coal (owned by Banpu, a Thai company). Centennial have denied full redundancy entitlements to employees close to and over 60 years of age, on the basis of their age.

Ms Bolger said, “Centennial is the only company in the coal mining industry that denies full redundancy entitlements to employees based on age.

“There is an obvious conflict between Government policy and what this company is doing. On one hand, the Federal Government is telling people that they need to work to age 65 for the benefit of the country. Yet, on the other hand, Centennial Coal is denying workers their entitlements because they are over 60 and forcing them to access their superannuation early.

“These workers will have smaller superannuation, exhaust savings earlier and will need to rely on Government assistance – all of which is the opposite of what the country needs.

“In rural and regional areas, privatisation has reduced the number of jobs, particularly for older workers. These workers are the human collateral of privatisation and this situation is important evidence for the Senate Inquiry to hear,” said Ms Bolger.

“In the case of Centennial Coal, privatisation has resulted in its profits leaving Australia and its workers being discriminated against. Last year Centennial reported $213 million in profits, at the same time their older workers face a poor old age.

Centennial Coal workers affected by the discrimination are owed between 30 to 56 weeks salary, many having worked for the company for over 30 years.

“The experiences of these workers show the long-term and devastating impact of privatisation can have on individuals, but more broadly, these experiences impact rural and regional communities and their economies.

“We are calling for a review into the effects of privatisation on older workers and rural and regional communities, to ensure no-one else has to go through what these workers and their families have gone through.

“It is absolutely essential that the long-term effects of privatisation are understood and mitigated before any decision to sell assets is made,” said Ms Bolger.


Source:  Professionals Australia

Good news behind bad jobs numbers

Good news behind bad jobs numbers

AUSTRALIA’S unemployment rate has risen to the highest level in more than 12 years, as the ranks of the unemployed swell to almost 800,000 for the first time since 1994, putting another interest rate cut firmly on the agenda.

The Australian dollar shed more than half a US cent to US76.55c immediately after the data became public at 11:30am (AEDT).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the country’s jobless rate had jumped from 6.1 per cent to 6.4 per cent between December and January, giving Australia the second highest unemployment rate in the English speaking world.

The surprise rise in the jobless rate follows a more optimistic set of number in the final three months of 2014, which witnessed an extra 100,000 jobs, and will boost the probability of a further interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank when it considers their level early next month.

Market expectations of an official rate cut in March rose above 60 per cent, from below 50 per cent, after the figures were released.

A fall in full-time jobs of more than 28,000 was partly offset by a smaller rise in part-time work between December and January, leaving total employment 12,200 lower across Australia at 11.67 million.

Economists had expected an overall fall of 5000.

The participation rate — the share of working page Australians in or looking for work — remained steady at 64.8 per cent.

It will be disappointing news for the Abbott government, which will need employment to grow by an average of more than 18,000 a month to meet its promise to oversee 1 million new jobs by 2018.

The unemployment was last as high as 6.4 per cent in August, 2002. The unemployment rate in the UK is 5.9 per cent, 5.7 per cent in the US, and 5.6 per cent in New Zealand. It is 6.6 per cent in Canada.

Among the 795,000 people who were unemployed in January, more than 550,000 are looking for full-time work.

The Reserve Bank cut official interest rates to an new record low of 2.25 per cent earlier this month, in part because of concerns the unemployment rate would stay higher for longer than it had expected.

In December 1994 the number of unemployed fell below 800,000 as the economy emerged from the early 1990s recession.

The ABS said the last time the unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points or more was in September 2012, although on average an increase of this magnitude occurs once every 12 months.

The figures were not affected by recent changes in the ABS employment survey, although usual volatility could have contributed to the increase in the jobless rate, the ABS said.

Source:  The Australian

Businesses encouraged to look closely at recruitment or miss out on valuable knowledge and experience

Grey matter: Older workers have invaluable experience and knowledge

Grey matter: Older workers have invaluable experience and knowledge

Older workers looking for work are often alienated by outdated hiring practices, according to employment minister Esther McVey.

McVey was commenting on a Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) report in which one-third of employers admit they should be doing more to provide opportunities for older workers.

The survey of 200 UK employers also suggests that 37% cite advertising as a hurdle to attracting workers over 55-years-old.

One in five employers said that the language used in recruitment campaigns should be inclusive for all age groups – while 17% said that organisations should look beyond solely advertising online to ensure candidates of all generations are reached.

McVey commented that more and more older workers are now looking for a new challenge in employment – and that “they have a hugely valuable contribution to make to any workforce.”

“Despite the recent impressive trends in those over 50 getting back into work, older workers still in many cases face outdated stereotypes when it comes to business hiring practices,” she said.

“Not only is this a waste of valuable talent and ‘life skills’, but it’s a missed opportunity for businesses to make their most of their experience to support younger colleagues develop their careers.”

DWP business champion for older workers Dr Ros Altmann added that it is vital for the economy that people living longer and wanting to work are given the opportunity to do so.

“Businesses need to act now in order to benefit from the extensive skills and experience that older workers bring. It is important not to rule out older applicants when recruiting new talent,” she said.

“In March I will publish evidence of the business case for retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers. As today’s survey shows, ongoing training and ensuring all workers have up-to-date skills will also be vital to make sure older people are not overlooked in the recruitment process.”

Finally REC chief executive Kevin Green suggested focusing on older workers could be one way to address the UK’s burgeoning skills crisis.

“Simple changes to the language used in job descriptions and the way jobs are advertised could be significant,” he said. “We encourage hirers to work alongside specialist recruiters who understand the benefits that older workers can bring, and who can help tailor job roles to meet their needs.”

– See more at:

Focus groups show voters understand that demographic change requires policy change, but the Coalition and Labor should proceed with extreme caution

elderly couple
 Focus groups have expressed deep concern about the government’s policies to deal with an ageing population. Photograph: Alamy

The ageing population is cited by the Abbott government as the driver of many policy changes, including health cuts and tax reform.

But focus groups conducted across the country by the Ipsos Mind and Mood survey have a clear message for legislators. Voters understand that demographic change requires policy change, but politicians should proceed with extreme caution.

The survey “Our Ageing Population” found Australians are very worried about the issue and deeply concerned that governments haven’t got policy right.

“They are concerned about the broad-reaching implications for the nation’s housing, employment and healthcare sectors … Perceptions that the federal government is not introducing policies which will address these perceived problems only serves to heighten anxiety about Australia’s future in the face of this important demographic shift,” the survey concludes.

Most recently treasurer Joe Hockey raised the possibility of humans living to 150 as he foreshadowed a “deep conversation with the Australian people” about ageing after the government releases the latest intergenerational report. And the ageing population is also cited as a reason the government needs to cut spending on healthcare.

“The idea that health has to be cut to support the ageing population frightens people because they think the system is under immense pressure already and they can’t see how more can be taken away, and in regional Australia they feel especially under-serviced,” said Dorothy Dudley, director of the Mind and Mood report.

And while some respondents were prepared to accept the Abbott government’s $7 Medicare copayment (the policy that was on the table at the time of the surveys) they were suspicious that it would lead to even higher payments and a “US-style system” where healthcare became unaffordable.

The report includes quotes from focus group participants on the subject.

  • “I don’t personally have a problem with the $7 co-payment, I’m happy for my taxes to go towards healthcare even if I’m not sick, it’s certainly better than a lot of other things.”
  • “We have one of the best systems in the world. If there’s no money, then put up the levy for the majority but don’t slug pensioners with a co-payment. It’s not just the visit to the doctor. It’s pathology, then their medication. It really adds up. The vast majority of people don’t abuse it, but people get sick all the time. If you discourage people from going to the doctor they’ll get chronically sick and it will cost more.
  • “They won’t just stop at $7 it’ll just keep going up, it gets to become like the US where you could be bleeding out of your head and they refuse to see you. But that’s where we’re headed. We’re not caring as much.”

Respondents were equally anxious about the plan to raise the pension eligibility age to 70 – a policy that applies to those born after 1965 – and generally worried at the prospect that the pension would become less generous but that they would be unable to continue to work.

“The Coalition government’s plans to increase the age pension eligibility age to 70 by 2035 created much discussion,” the report said. “The fact that the age pension is so strongly linked with the concept of retirement was evidenced by many participants confusing the ‘pension eligibility age’ with a ‘retirement age’, although an official retirement age does not exist in Australia.”

It recorded comments from respondents like this:

  • “We’re up in arms about the retirement age.”
  • “The goal posts are constantly moving.”
  • “Raising the retirement age is just weird. It would suck if you got to a point where you can’t keep going and it’s like ‘you have to work another five years’.”
  • “The retirement age thing, that must depend on your occupation.”
  • “Tony [Abbott] needs to come out here [to regional NSW] and see what it feels like to pick a tonne of apples every day. What your joints feel like at the end of the day. See if thinks he could do it till he’s 70.”
  • “The 70 age limit is problematic. Not everyone can do that, not if they have a really physical job. It’s got to be flexible. If you’re a tiler or a bricklayer, your body can’t just keep doing that. You’re lucky if you last to 65.”

The government has ruled out unexpected changes to superannuation this term, but will include superannuation tax breaks in its “root and branch” review of the taxation system,

But according to the report there is “also a deal of anxiety about gaining access to superannuation with a perception that the superannuation goalposts were continually changing”.

It found that “across the board, fingers were pointing at the government who many participants felt had not really fully addressed the challenges they foresaw”.

  • “Government needs to be creative, not so tunnel-visioned. They’ve got to think. What if that was my mum, my dad? What would they need?”
  • “What measures are our leaders putting in today to help us to make sure it doesn’t happen? I’m not feeling very comfortable with anything really, are you?”
  • “There used to be a difference between Labor and Liberal and now they’re the same. I’m also cynical about everything in our society. It’s all driven by the bottom line. Acts of goodwill, not for money, are pretty rare.”

Source:  The Guardian

Date:  January 19, 2015

Could you engage in a conceited deceit that would make others think you were younger?

Could you engage in a conceited deceit that would make others think you were younger? Photo: iStock

You’ll have seen loads of ‘New Year, New You’ stories by now – do this, stop doing that, buy a different shampoo and you’ll look years younger, feel heaps better and be far more attractive.

The most consistent message seems to be that the appearance of youth is the key to success. Even for men, who traditionally have a longer shelf life than women, being young (or at least appearing to be) has enormous cachet.

There are plenty of ways to pass yourself off as a younger feller – new haircuts, plastic surgery, a spot of Botox, maybe getting rid of that unsightly beard. Best of all, try losing a few kilos – chiselled is always better than jowly.

But have you tried this? It’s simple and, while not entirely foolproof, it’s certainly guaranteed to bring results. What is it? Lie about your age.

Until quite recently whenever I mentioned how old I was, the response would be something along the lines of “No, really, you don’t look it”, “My God you are not” etc.

So imagine my surprise when I told someone my real age and their response was … “Oh yeah”.

My face had caught up with my birth certificate, something needed to be done, and the simplest thing was to rewind the clock.

It’s as easy as that. Now if anyone asks my birthday I give my wife’s. And just like that I’m six years younger.

Proof of youth

What’s wrong with that? It’s not like I’m trying to commit identity fraud. I’m not passing myself off as anyone else, just lopping 70 months off my age.

It obviously doesn’t work with banks or insurance companies which, annoyingly, want to know my actual birthday “for security purposes”.

It probably won’t fool HR when the grim reaper of redundancy next passes through the office, either. Everyone else will have no choice but to believe it.

And more people are doing it than you might think. I recently read a story about someone I’d interviewed  a few years back and smelt a rat. A quick look back through the clippings file revealed that he, too, had at some point been a bit elastic with his age. And good for him.

My sister admitted to me the other day that she’s been doing it for years and claims her partner’s birthday as her own now and again. She has to remember his star sign and act the part when she does but otherwise, she says, it’s a big success.

Getting away with it

But can you get away with it? Pick a new birth year – and stick to it. Maybe keep the same birthday. You might have to bone up on kids’ TV or pop songs from your purportedly formative years.

I’m luckier – an accent that identifies I’m not from around here gives me a degree of vagueness about these things. Don’t lop too much off, either – ideally, no more than 10 per cent of your real age.

I don’t think it’s a big deal. You are, after all, only as old as you feel. And if you feel like being a bit younger what’s to stop you? Go on, give it a whirl.

Is your age set in stone or do you tell the odd white lie?

Source:  The Age

Discouraged jobseekers are becoming invisible in official estimates. AAP/Julian Smith

With monthly unemployment figures due out this week, the usual attention will be paid to fluctuations up and down. In last year’s Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook Treasurer Joe Hockey predicted that unemployment could reach 6.5%, which is 0.25% higher than was predicted in the federal budget.

How the unemployment figure is actually calculated became a hot media topic when the Australian Bureau of Statistics was forced to substantially revise its seasonally adjusted labour force figures for July and August. The ABS cited difficulty with seasonally adjusting the unemployment figure, which meant only the raw figure was used. These difficulties were attributed to a variety of factors and are now considered to be resolved.

However these conversations gloss over how the official figure of unemployment underestimates the “real” figure of unemployment. For those of us who are interested in how unemployment contributes to the way we experience ourselves in the world, who is excluded from these figures is just as important as who is included.

The discouraged

So who is missing from this key data set that we have been hearing a lot about recently? To answer this we need to look at definition of “unemployment” more closely.

The International Labour Organisation states a person is unemployed if they have worked less than one hour, have been actively looking for work during the reference week, and could start a job in the week following. Recently, the ABS updated the Labour Force Survey to align “active steps” of job seeking with the ILO definition. Now a person is considered to be actively looking for work if they, at bare minimum, call an employer to ask about a job position as opposed to reading through a job notice board or applying for Centrelink payments.

Here we can see that a person who has given up on the job search, or feels so disheartened by the process that they looked at jobs on a notice board but did not make contact with any employer, are not considered to be unemployed and therefore are missing from unemployment figures.

Economists refer to this cohort of unemployed as the “discouraged”. We consider this term to be a euphemism because when we turn to psychological and sociological studies that examine the experience of unemployment we find paperafter paper that discusses the detrimental psychological impact that unemployment has on a person. Such research documents this distress in terms of anxiety, stress, depression, suicide and lower self-esteem – that is, many people can be said to be excluded from the unemployed count because of the psychological impact of unemployment upon them.

The ‘active subject’

What do we do about unemployment, then, if it is so devastating to people’s well-being? “Activation” is one solution favoured by current government figures for the “problem of unemployment” in Australia and has been for some time now.

Activation is not just about active job seeking or actively improving one’s skill base (increasing skills via training etc), it is also about actively working on oneself to improve one’s “job readiness” in terms of self-esteem, resilience and motivation. From this perspective any programs to improve psychological factors like “self-esteem” are to be encouraged.

The problem of the unemployed is (not) the unemployed

The problem with these programs of reformation is that they only contribute to constructing the problem of unemployment as the problem of the unemployed individual themselves, running the risk of becoming a form of victim-blaming which pathologises the unemployed and makes political discussions around the structure of employment, unemployment and the labour market even less likely.

In discussions about unemployment and welfare programs it is rarely mentioned that mass unemployment is required by our socio-political regime, a contemporary form of neoliberal capitalism. The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment is a term used by economists and politicians to refer to the level of unemployment, between 4% and 6%, considered necessary to prevent inflation taking off.

We need to also consider that there just aren’t enough jobs to go around. Figures in August 2014, for example, showed there were approximately 147,200 job vacancies though unemployment totalled 735,500 people. Clearly unemployment can not be “solved” by unemployed people taking non-existent jobs and it is unreasonable to blame unemployed individuals for unemployment when there is no paid work.

If our politico-economic system needs unemployment, the active labour market vitriol poured upon the unemployed is unjust as well as ineffective.