The Guest in the Garage

Fresh solutions come from approaching business issues with a knowledge and understanding of the facts.

April 16, 2012

Guests, Benjamin Franklin once said, are like fish: They both begin to smell after three days.

Here’s hoping the “guest” in my garage—a hideous odor with no visible source—moves on soon. This is a recent development and one I cannot decipher.

I maintain a sanitary domicile. There are no overflowing garbage receptacles and no deceased rodents in plain view, yet the problem persists. From whence comes this spectral stench?

At times we face obvious problems and yet the root cause isn’t readily apparent. Options? We can simply tolerate or ignore an issue. We can consult experts for remedies. We can form committees among our knowledgeable staff, realizing the benefits of collaboration.

Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.
Lora Bray is research librarian at CUNA.

Ultimately, the answers to our problems may take some time, trial, and error to find, but performing due diligence is a great start. Accurate information enables us to proceed with a course of action that may unearth solutions. Let’s sniff out some answers!

First up is a whiff of news on the job scene. In “Trends in Coverage for Part Time Workers” by the Employee Benefits Research Group, a consequence of enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “…is that the law’s health coverage mandate for full-time workers… will cause cutbacks in coverage to part-time workers.”

Further distressing is that “between 2009 and 2011 the percentage of small employers offering health coverage to part-time workers fell from 30 percent to 15 percent.”

You may be wondering, “Who is the Most Unemployed?” The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta examines “factors affecting joblessness” with an analysis of the unemployed with regard to age, gender, race, education, and other variables.

Some findings:

• Those ages 16-24 comprise 14% of the labor force but represent more than 25% of the unemployed;

• Although women didn’t lose as many jobs as men during the recession, “the current recovery is the first since the 1970s in which the unemployment rate for women has risen even as the rate for men has declined.”

• Education remains important for job acquisition and retention. The unemployment rate among 25-year-olds lacking a high school diploma was 13.1% in January 2012, much higher than high school graduates (8.4%) and college grads (4.2%).

A New York Federal Reserve study, “Workforce Skills Across the Urban-Rural Hierarchy,” takes an in-depth look at the relationship between geographical areas, workforce participants, and income.

It finds that employees in rural areas mainly consist of laborers, machinists, and  makers—and reflect lower skills than those employees in more populated areas, who are scientists, engineers, and executives—those with “high levels of social and resource-management skills.”

These realities “shed light on the pattern of earnings observed across the urban-rural hierarchy.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals an interesting fact about rural employment in the “Occupational Outlook Quarterly.” “Although employment in most management occupations is expected to grow, in one large occupation—farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers—it is projected to decline.”

What do these trends in rural vs. metropolitan employment mean for your members? Are part-timers in your community suffering with decreased benefits?

Help retirees smell the roses

Retirees are sniffing out ways to spend their dollars and manage their incomes. For a  glimpse, see “Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2010” by the Social Security Administration.

It reveals this group’s economic diversity: The median income for those age 65 and older is $25,757, although “13% have an income of under $10,000, and roughly 25% have an income of $50,000 or more.”

Given these income disparities, are older generations financially able to retire? According to “Transitioning into Retirement: The MetLife Study of Baby Boomers at 65,” this group is indeed able to stop and smell the roses:

“Despite the popular belief that Baby Boomers will continue to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65, those born in 1946 are retiring in droves… 59% of the first boomers to turn 65 are at least partially retired, 45% are completely retired, and 14% are retired but working part-time.”

Grandparents are spending on the younger set, according to “Insights and Spending Habits of Modern Grandparents” by AARP. It shows that 96% of grandparents spend money on their grandkids. One-fourth of those surveyed spend less than $250 annually, 24% spend $250 and $750, 25% spend more than $1,000, and 4% spend $750 to $999. Smells pretty good to the kids!

This spending might represent sacrifice for some, according Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) in “Majority of Older Women Living Without Economic Security.” 

Says Donna Addkison, WOW president/CEO, “A staggering majority of older women in America can’t afford to cover their most basic expenses…a harsh eye-opener for working women and families who are saving for retirement today.”

Indeed, “60% of older women across the country lack the incomes to meet basic expenses.”

Have you considered services to meet boomers’ spending and saving needs? Can you tailor your offerings to accommodate the needs of women in this demographic?

Effective problem-solving tactics can vary depending on the situation as we attempt to get to the crux of various rank matters we may encounter. But when we approach these issues with a knowledge and understanding of the facts, the solutions will be a real breath of fresh air!

LORA BRAY is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.