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Some economists predict that by 2030, the United States could experience a labor shortage of 35 million workers. As the shortage approaches, one option available is to encourage people to work beyond traditional retirement ages, especially because people who are age 55 or older will constitute nearly a third of the poppulation. Accordingly, increasing demands will be made on the workforce development system to help ensure that older workers are provided opportunities to help address the anticipated labor shortage. Concerned that the existing workforce development system may not meet the needs of older workers, the Subcommittee's Ranking Minority Member asked GAO to determine the extent that older workers are enrolled in federal employment and training programs, what services are provided, and how performance measures affect such services.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Labor 1. In light of concerns that older workers have unique employment characteristics that could adversely affect certain program outcomes and that older workers who need in-depth job search assistance and job training to remain in, or re-enter, the workforce may not receive such services, the Secretary of Labor should assess Workforce Investment Act (WIA) performance measures and make adjustments as necessary to eliminate the disincentive to enrolling older workers in WIA.
Closed - Implemented
On February 17, 2006, Labor issued a training employment guidance letter that modified the earnings measures so that pre-and post-program earnings were no longer used. Labor officials stated that they have received tremendous support for this change, which has enhanced the opportunity for older workers to be served through the one-stop career centers.

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