Presents 2014–2024 current and projected employment levels, skill gaps, and occupations for low-income adults over age 50 to inform targeted training and education programs for that population.

To “help current and future low-income workers find and keep employment that pays a living wage [one must]…understand the skills that population needs. To aid in that understanding, this report examines current employment for low-income older workers and compares it to projected employment for different occupations. [The authors] also examine low- and middle-wage occupations projected to grow most rapidly between 2014 and 2024 and analyze the education, experience, and on-the-job training requirements for those occupations. Given the current skills of low-income older workers and the needed skills projected for various occupations, [the authors] estimate potential skill gaps for low-income older workers. Finally, [the authors] examine the occupations and industries from which older workers will be exiting the workforce” (p.1).

“This report addresses the following research questions:

1. What is the current distribution of employment by industry and occupation for low-income workers age 50 and older?

2. What is the distribution of educational attainment by occupation and industry in 2015?

3. Which low- to middle-wage occupations are expected to grow most rapidly from 2014 to 2024 at the state and national levels?

4. What are the wages, educational requirements, work experience requirements, and on-the-job training requirements for those occupations expected to grow most rapidly by 2024?

5. What are the current skills of low-income workers age 50 and older, and how might those skills be useful in occupations that are expected to grow in the future?

6. What industries or occupations are low-income older workers exiting the workforce or retiring from in the next five years?” (p.6).

“This analysis incorporates several data sources, each of which sheds some light on occupational projections and skill gaps that could be filled by targeted education and training of the low-income older population. Individual and household surveys that include data on low-income older workers, namely the American Community Survey…and the Health and Retirement Study…, provide the foundation for this report. Those data are supplemented by occupation-level information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections program and the Occupational Information Network…database” (p.6).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Occupational Projections for Low-Income Older Workers. Assessing the Skill Gap for Workers Age 50 and Older

Major Findings & Recommendations

1. “Overall, the most common occupations among this population are office and administrative support (14 percent), followed by sales and related occupations; transportation and material moving; and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance” (p.15). 2. “The most common occupations and industries for low-income older workers vary by their educational attainment” (p.14). “Among low-income older workers with less than a high school degree, the data suggest occupational choices may be much more limited” (p.15). 3. “The top four [fastest growing] occupations [1) Nursing/psychiatric/home health aides, 2) Other personal care/service workers, 3) Food and beverage serving workers, and 4) Construction trades workers] are projected to produce nearly 2.3 million jobs [between 2014 and 2014] but only one of these occupations—construction trades workers—has a median wage greater than $12 per hour” (p.19). 4. “For the majority of the 40 most important skill areas, low-income older workers work in occupations that require lower skills than the occupations of workers overall. This difference is particularly high in language-related skills, such as English language skills, reading comprehension, written expression, and writing….Notably, the 40 most important skills do not include technical skills related to computers or other equipment. This may be because technical skills that are important to one growing occupation may not be important to another, but nontechnical skills are more generalizable across occupations. Any occupational training is likely to highlight occupation-specific skills but…older, low-income workers would benefit from blending that occupational training with basic skills instruction, particularly those basic skills that relate to language and communication” (p.25). 5. “The occupational categories with the highest likelihood of retiring between 2014 and 2018 were protective service occupations…, business and financial operations occupations…, and personal care and service occupations….The number of low-income older workers planning to retire is highest in the following occupations: office and administrative support occupations…, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations…,and personal care and service occupations” (p.32). (Abstractor: Author)