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Employers Respect Experience, Dependability : Many Retirees Taking Temporary Jobs

December 14, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Is there any truth to the belief that retirees aren't being respected or appreciated for their experience and wisdom?

Not according to the American Assn. of Retired Persons, which reports that business managers are welcoming retired people back to the workplace in increasing numbers.

There are three factors fueling the return of retirees to the work force as temporary employees, notes John Hart of the association's Senior Employment Services:

Unemployment is dropping, and employers are finding it harder to recruit permanent employees.

Because of low birth rates in the late '60s and early '70s, there is a continuing decline of entry-level labor in the 18-24 age group.

Labor Department figures show an accelerating trend toward early retirement, with employees 55 and older leaving their jobs in ever greater numbers.

To alleviate the serious labor-supply shortage, employers are asking temporary personnel companies to provide retirees to fill entry level as well as more advanced positions. People with general and automated office skills are in high demand, as well as personnel for the hospitality, retailing, communications and many manufacturing industries.

"Managers are truly appreciative of mature persons' efficiency and productivity," says John Fanning, president of Uniforce Temporary Services. "They say retired persons have less turnover and absenteeism and are more reliable than other personnel.

"Also, many retirees 55 and over are eager to return to the workplace as temporaries. They have job experiences that are valuable, and the flexibility of a second career in temporary employment allows them to combine work with the joys of travel and leisure time."

Although people are retiring earlier, they still want to be active and involved, he points out, adding that they enjoy the option of choosing when and where they want to work.

"For retirees who 'temp,' there are two kinds of income--financial and psychic," Fanning says. "New goals and a continuing sense of accomplishment enhance the retirees' feeling of purpose and self-worth. And, of course, today's entry level pay rates for temps hardly resemble the starting pay of days gone by. Today's temporaries make anywhere from $4 to $15 an hour, depending on skill levels."

At Opti-Ray in Farmingdale, N.Y., a distributor of eyeglasses, Salvatore Gualtieri, a temporary employed as a production-line supervisor, said: "After retirement, I was home for 19 months and felt my mind just stagnating. I wanted to go back to work."

Gualtieri's supervisor, John Balazy, a production manager at the firm, said: "I'm new to middle management, but Sal is not. He has seen it all and knows what to expect. The things Sal tells me, you can't learn in a textbook or in the classroom."

In terms of keeping track of Social Security retirement benefit limits, each Uniforce paycheck, for example, lists income to date. Retirees simply stop accepting temp assignments as their earnings limits are reached. When retirees reach age 70, there is no longer a limit on earnings, and Social Security benefits remain unaffected regardless of income.

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