Washington County commissioners

From left, are Diana Irey-Vaughn, Washington County commissioner; Larry Maggi, Washington County commissioner; Lisa Neil, president, Southwest Training Services Inc.; Kathy Costantino, Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging Washington County Supervisor; Matt Uram, Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging job developer; and Harlan Shober, Washington County commissioner, at a recent county commissioners meeting.

The average and median age of the U.S. population is rising, and the composition of the workforce is rising with it.

It is estimated that as soon as 2020, workers 55 and over will make up 25% of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from 13% in 2000, according to the Department of Labor.

In addition, working individuals are tending to remain in the workforce longer and are retiring later. As a result, the number of workers over the traditional retirement age of 65 continues to see a marked increase, and it is projected they will make up more than 7% of the American labor force by 2020.

Employers rate older workers high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance and punctuality.

National Employ Older Workers Week, held annually the last full week of September, recognizes the vital role of older workers in the workforce and aims to increase awareness of this labor segment and to develop innovative strategies to tap it.

It also showcases the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which provides on-the-job skills training to individuals 55 or older with limited financial resources and potential barriers to employment.

Washington County Commissioners joined the nation Sept. 5 in proclaiming the last full week of September as National Employ Older Workers Week to recognize the vital role of older workers in the workforce.

To learn more about the program, call Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging at 724-228-7080.

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