Wednesday January 23, 2019
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The Story of Ageism In America

Workers 55 and older already make up one-third of home health and personal care aides.

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Are Aging Americans Too Old to Work? VOA

Each workday, Marty Harwell, age 66, sets the alarm for 5:15 p.m., giving himself enough time to grab a shower and something to eat before clocking in for his 7 p.m. night shift as a pediatric nurse working in home health care.

The California man, who worked in the music industry for most of his adult life, fell back on nursing full time in order to guarantee a steady income for himself and his family.

“I’ve had a couple of questions like, ‘When are you going to retire?’ somewhat facetiously from people who want my slot, who are younger,” Harwell says, “but otherwise I have not encountered any kind of age discrimination or pay loss.”

Harwell is among the almost 1 in 5 Americans aged 65 and older who are still working or looking for work, according to the AARP, a nonprofit organization that advocates for older Americans.

But while two-thirds of senior citizens say they plan to work well into their retirement years like Harwell is doing, only about 20 percent actually do.

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By 2030, one in every five residents will be older than age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. VOA

There are a number of reasons for this under-employment, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who specializes in retirement security.

“They have to find the best job under limited circumstances,” Ghilarducci says. “They’re usually stuck in place because they own a house or they have a lot of embedded family relations. So the one challenge is that they can’t move like young people can to find a good job.”

The second challenge is age discrimination.

“Especially against women and not just in terms of being hired, but also promotion, training and pay increases,” she says. “Ageism seems to affect women more than men. Meaning that perceptions of older women in terms of their ability to learn, their ability to get along with other people at work, are viewed as more negative than it is for an older man.”

Another roadblock is that certain jobs require more physical ability than some older people have. Also, they might not be as up to speed on computers as younger workers. And even if senior citizens are able to catch up, many employers might be reluctant to offer training to older workers due to concerns it won’t pay off because the older worker might not stay on the job as long as a younger co-worker.

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VOA

For some of those older Americans who are employed, the job is often more lucrative than ever. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that workers over 65 are not only making more money on average than ever before, but they’re also outpacing the average earnings growth of other age groups.

But Ghilarducci cautions that those rosy numbers can be misleading.

“We find there’s a lot more inequality among the older age groups,” she says. “So there are some very highly paid people who are older who are getting big wage increases, but the average is being pulled up by just a few.”

By 2030, one in every five residents will be older than age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

More age-friendly employers in the not-for-profit sector, such as hospitals and government agencies, are preparing for the time when there are many more older people in the workforce. Workers 55 and older already make up one-third of home health and personal care aides.

However, Ghilarducci finds that far fewer for-profit companies are creating workplaces that will attract older people.

As for Marty Harwell, he has no plans to retire. Most of his friends still work, at least part time, and he expects to do the same.

Also Read: Usage of E-cigarettes In American Teens Have Reached ‘Epidemic Proportions’: FDA

“About three years ago I realized I wanted to come full circle back to my musical profession and then from there I realized, ‘Well, I don’t really want to retire per se,’” he says. “I am going to shift gears and do what makes me genuinely happy.”

Harwell views working in music as a “joyful task” and expects returning to his passion will earn him enough money to keep him happy and satisfied during his so-called “Golden Years.” (VOA)

Next Story

Firefly Aerospace Inc Plans to Build a Factory at Cape Canaveral

NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface.

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A Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket stands ready for launch on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018 VOA

Firefly Aerospace Inc, a resurgent rocket company founded by a former SpaceX engineer, plans to build a factory and launch site at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport in a $52 million deal, people familiar with the project said on Wednesday.

The Firefly project is strategically important for the Cedar Park, Texas-based startup as it competes with several other new entrants vying to cash in on a big jump in the number of small satellites expected in the coming years.

Companies like Firefly, billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, and the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, are among the most promising companies designing miniaturized launch systems to link a broader swath of the economy to space at lower cost.

Firefly and Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority, declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements.

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The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

Beginning around 2020, around 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually, more than double the annual average over the past decade, according to Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres.

The boom is fueled in part by new venture cash and technology leaps that have reduced the size of satellites used for everything from communications to national security.

A Florida project code-named “Maricopa” was publicly disclosed in November by Space Florida, but officials have been tight-lipped on specifics. Two people familiar with the project said Firefly is the company involved, though one of the people said the deal had not been finalized.

Firefly aims for a first flight in December of its Alpha rocket, which is capable of carrying around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit at a cost of about $15 million per flight.

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Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha.

By comparison, it can cost around $62 million for a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with a payload topping 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).

Firefly, founded around 2014 by former SpaceX and NASA engineer Tom Markusic, says its main competitors are government-subsidized foreign ones like the Indian Space Research Organization.

Asset management firm Noosphere Ventures bought Firefly’s assets in 2017 after it nearly shut down when a key European investor backed out. That resulted in the cancellation of a $5.5 million NASA contract for small satellite launches.

Also Read: NASA Planning to Use Blockchain Technology For Air Traffic Management

Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha and a higher-capacity Beta rocket around 2021. It was not clear when the Florida expansion would be completed.

In November, NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface. (VOA)