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One man’s retirement crusade to help Detroit and baby boomers

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Randal Charlton (REUTERS/handout)Randal Charlton has had a long, colorful career with plenty of ups and downs. In his 71 years, he’s done everything from tending dairy cows for a Saudi sheik to starting a jazz club in Florida. And as a lifelong entrepreneur, he has bought and sold 14 different companies.

Charlton’s last venture was a Detroit-based biotech company called Asterand, which he co-founded and then merged in 2006 with a U.K.-based competitor. He was 67 years old after the deal closed – a time when many would hang up their spikes and take it easy.

Instead, Charlton took on a daunting new challenge: fighting Motor City’s economic blight by building a successful business incubator for entrepreneurs called TechTown. Charlton raised $24 million from foundations and government, gathered together an impressive array of resources for training and start-up funding and recruited a small army of start-ups that have created a total of more than 1,800 local jobs.

TechTown is located in an old five-floor automotive plant with 130,000 square feet. When Charlton took over, just one floor was built out, and the center was running on loans guaranteed by nearby Wayne State University. Since then, the incubator has been home to 250 companies, and more than 2,200 entrepreneurs have graduated from its training programs. Last year, 14 TechTown companies received capital infusions totaling more than $1.35 million. The incubator has invested $700,000 directly in early-stage businesses and helped clients raise $14 million in follow-on funding.

Gen Y out of work: What is corporate America doing about it?

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Highly educated, sometimes entitled and incredibly humbled by the current labor market, Generation Y is hungry for work. But do employers understand this enormous and grossly underemployed demographic?

Nearly eighty million strong, Gen Y is loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 1994 (or 2005 depending on who you talk to). Raised in a kid-centric time, many continue to be coddled by helicopter parents not willing to wean their precious lot from the proverbial financial teat. As a result, Gen Y’s expectations of the workforce are vastly different from baby boomers and even the closely-related Generation X.

Eight ways older workers can enhance job security

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Last week’s dismal unemployment report contained what looks like a glimmer of hope for older workers. The August jobless rate for workers over 55 was 6.6 percent – far below the 9.1 percent national average. The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for older workers was down from 7 percent as recently as June, and it stands considerably below the 7.3 percent rate in August 2010.

But the August jobless numbers masks broader weakness in the job market for older Americans, because it measures only workers actively seeking employment. Many older workers have given up looking; only 1 percent of unemployed older workers are optimistic about finding jobs in the near future, while 30 percent say they are very pessimistic, according to recent research by Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work.

Job creation: Fixing America with an infrastructure bank

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We have iPhones, iPods and iPads. Why not an “iBank?”

This wouldn’t be an electronic gizmo that’s obsolete in a year, though. It would be a public-private partnership to bolster America’s infrastructure. It will create jobs, cut the deficit and repair what needs to be fixed all over the country.

An infrastructure bank, or iBank, solves a lot of problems without busting the budget. Instead of providing direct government grants or earmarks for specific projects, loans are made by a government-banking entity.

Is the American Dream dead?

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The American Dream lures people from all over the world, and it’s because of this possibility: If you come here and work hard, your kids will have a better life than you.

What if that weren’t true anymore?

Record debt, persistent joblessness, millions of underwater mortgages and a stock market that hasn’t gone anywhere in 10 years: For today’s kids who are entering the job market, it’s hardly a recipe for future success.

Is the man-cession finally over?

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Good news, lads: things are finally looking up on the job front.

After taking a beating in the labor market during the financial crisis  — 5.2 million men saw their jobs evaporate between November 2007 and December 2009, compared to only 1.9 million for women — the tide is finally turning.

A new report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that 1.7 million men have returned to the ranks of the employed since  the beginning of last year, with 686,000 men finding work in the last 12 months alone.

Is college worth the investment?

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Is a college education worth it?  In the free market of ideas, maybe. In a labor market that can’t be sustained by wage growth or job creation, probably not. Another bubble may be bursting.

The college degree payback may be long and may not materialize for decades. A six-figure education may not be a guarantee to higher real wages in the near future and it may not be worth going into debt to finance it.

Why older workers are creating their own jobs

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Deborah Ramsey went to work straight out of high school in the 1970s, working her way through the now-familiar rounds of layoffs, promotions and job changes at a series of banking, insurance and consulting companies in Philadelphia, her hometown. “I did my bit,” she recalls.

In 2005, she was working as an administrator for a technology consulting firm that was undergoing restructuring. “A lot of people were being laid off or leaving. I had been through two big layoffs before, I knew what they smelled like.” Ramsey decided to leave voluntarily, spurred by the changing work environment and caregiving responsibilities at home, where she looks after a mentally disabled daughter, an aging mother and mother-in-law, and her husband, a disabled veteran.

Entry-level job market best in 3 years

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A job seeker walks the floor at a large career fair at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike SegarGood news, college grads: the entry-level job market is the best it has been in three years — but you may have to settle for less money and a position outside your preferred career path, a new report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows.

“There’s lots of positive news out there, and we’re finally seeing some significant job creation,” says John Challenger, chief executive officer. But before you start daydreaming about the corner office, he adds one caveat: The job market isn’t what it used to be, and it may not provide the “ideal job situation” for everyone.

Dream jobs for the 20-something set

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Laura Dodd REUTERS/Handout

How does someone go from having an interest in criminal law to penning a book about finding your dream job?

Just ask 29-year-old Laura Dodd, whose own bizarre career trajectory led her to having dozens of conversations with people just like her: a hopeful 20-something ready to jump into the worst market in decades — without settling for a mundane 9-to-5 job.