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Jun 5, 2014

Silicon Valley’s ageist culture is bad for workers – and business

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Google confessed last week that it has a miserable record hiring and retaining women and minorities.

The tech giant responded to public pressure – including protests led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the company’s annual meeting – by releasing data about the gender and ethnic makeup of its workforce, and the numbers aren’t pretty. Women make up just 30 percent of Google’s workforce, and the company is 61 percent white. Asians represent 30 percent of Google’s workers, but Hispanics represent 3 percent and African Americans just 2 percent.

Jun 3, 2014

How to know when a ‘gray gambler’ is a problem gambler

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Once upon a time, bingo was the biggest game in town at the local senior center. But you’re far more likely to find today’s seniors manning a slot machine at the local casino – and some have become gambling addicts.

Problem gambling among older people is on the rise. Seniors have time and money on their hands, and the proliferation of casinos in most regions of the country has made gambling more convenient.

May 29, 2014

How an aging population could be tonic for the economy

CHICAGO, May 29 (Reuters) – Economists worry about something
called the economic dependency ratio – the number of people over
age 65 to 100 working-age people. The U.S. Census Bureau
projects that the ratio will jump sharply in the years ahead as
the population gets grayer – from 22 in 2010 to 35 in 2030.

The total dependency ratio, which also includes children,
won’t rise nearly that quickly, but politicians and policymakers
often marshal the elderly dependence figures to conjure all
manner of economic doomsday forecasts – soaring budget deficits,
the collapse of Social Security and Medicare. You’d think we’re
headed for block-to-block intergenerational warfare raging in
our streets.

May 27, 2014

Warning: Not all ‘target date’ funds have the same target

CHICAGO, May 27 (Reuters) – If you contribute to a target
date fund in your 401(k) plan, you probably have a sense of how
it works. The fund’s balance between stocks and bonds
automatically shifts as you age, with less weight on equities as
you get close to retirement.

But it’s important to read the fine print on these funds,
because their allocations aren’t all alike on the “target date”
– the day you retire. Some firms that manage target date funds
(TDFs) adhere to a “to” glidepath – meaning the funds reach
their most conservative allocation on the target date. But the
industry’s biggest players use a “through” glidepath, meaning
that the most conservative position is reached well after

May 22, 2014

An army of robots may soon be deployed – to care for the aged

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Imagine you’re 85, and living alone. Your children are halfway across the country, and you’re widowed. You have a live-in aide – but it’s not human. Your personal robot reminds you to take your medicine, monitors your diet and exercise, plays games with you, and even helps you connect with family members on the Internet.

Some technology experts see this as the answer to a predicted shortage of caregivers to serve our rapidly aging population. Labs around the world are working on this, and already some robots are being marketed successfully. Robots have been designed to help people with physical rehabilitation, assist in a nursing home, and even provide “telepresence” – in which a robot acts as an avatar, a physical presence for someone you communicate with at long distance.

May 20, 2014

How much are public-sector pensions shrinking? Often, a lot

CHICAGO (Reuters) – You’d have to be living in a cave not to have heard that many states are bailing out struggling pension plans by cutting benefits. But how will that affect workers in those states? Researchers who have been sorting through the cuts say the picture isn’t pretty.

Some 15 million state and local workers – about 12 percent of the nation’s workforce – are active participants in defined-benefit (DB) pension plans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the financial crash of 2008-2009, 45 states have changed their pension plans, a new study by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) and the Center for State & Local Government Excellence (SLGE) reports.

May 15, 2014

Senator Rubio’s surprisingly bipartisan retirement saving idea

CHICAGO, May 15 (Reuters) – When Republican politicians talk
about how important Social Security and Medicare have been for
their parents, it’s time to grab your wallet. These stories
usually precede a proposal to cut benefits under the guise of
“saving” the programs – and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida tore
a page from that playbook this week.

Rubio, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, began a speech
on retirement policy by recalling the importance of Social
Security and Medicare to his immigrant parents. “They never
earned enough to have significant savings or a pension,” he
said. “It was Social Security and Medicare that allowed them to
retire with comfort and security.”

May 13, 2014

Cruise control can drive your 401(k) – just don’t hit the gas

CHICAGO, May 13 (Reuters) – 401(k) plans are all about
automation these days, especially target date funds, which keep
workers’ accounts in balance for an age-appropriate level of
risk. It’s the investing world’s version of cruise control, but
a study released today finds that many investors are turning on
cruise control while putting their feet on the gas pedal – a
move that’s hurting their returns.

The study looks at several forms of investing help that
401(k) plan sponsors provide to employees, and the news is
encouraging. Workers who use target date funds (TDFs),
professional account management or online advice get 3.32
percent better returns – even after the cost of those services –
than those who go it alone. That may not sound like a lot, but
it adds up: The researchers calculate that it could translate to
a 79 percent account balance gain for someone age 45 today at
age 65.

May 8, 2014

Why moms – and all women – need a winning retirement plan

CHICAGO (Reuters) – On the hunt for a Mother’s Day gift this weekend? Here’s one that won’t cost a dime but could provide a big boost to Mom’s pocketbook down the road: Sit down and have a talk about retirement planning.

Women who aren’t mothers need to have the talk, too. That’s because women face a much tougher retirement outlook than men, and the reasons are clear.

May 7, 2014

New Medicare coverage of long-term care off to a rocky start

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A physical therapist visits Robert Klaiber, 78, weekly to provide a special type of treatment that helps alleviate his symptoms from Parkinson’s disease. Klaiber’s wife, Diane, was under the impression Medicare wouldn’t cover the physical therapy, which costs $500 or more a month. But earlier this month a neighbor noticed an announcement in a retirement newsletter.

“He showed me this item talking about an important change in the Medicare rules,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

    • About Mark

      "Mark Miller is a journalist and author who writes about trends in retirement and aging. He has a special focus on how the baby boomer generation is revising its approach to careers, money and lifestyle after age 50. Mark is the author of The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living (John Wiley & Sons/Bloomberg Press, 2010) and edits Mark is the former editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, and former Sunday editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. The opinions expressed here are his own."
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