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Letter from the Editor

Embracing Older Workers

One wild card in the labor market in coming years will be how many older workers choose to stay on the job beyond traditional retirement age.

The trend is already skewing toward an older workforce in the state. According to Cameron Macht’s story that begins on page 12 of this issue, workers 55 and over now fill 20 percent of the jobs in Minnesota. Just a decade ago that age group held 13.5 percent of the state’s jobs.

The workforce in virtually every region and industry in the state is aging. As more of those workers retire and leave the workforce, many employers will struggle to find replacements. That point was underscored by DEED’s recent Job Vacancy Survey, which showed Minnesota had nearly 98,000 unfilled job openings in the second quarter, among the most since the agency began tracking job vacancies 15 years ago.

Breaking down employment and education barriers that have kept people of color, younger adults and people with disabilities out of the workforce is one part of the formula for responding to the tighter labor market in the state.

But embracing older workers – from offering more flexible work hours to better benefits, part-time options or training opportunities – also will help address the challenge. Companies that make it a priority to hire and retain older workers will have an advantage in the growing competition for talent.

Monte Hanson

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