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Job downgrade = more job satisfaction for older workers, says AARP study

May 8, 2009 | 11:46 am

Older workers often switch jobs and employers, and in the process have their pay sliced, their pensions and healthcare benefits thrown out and their managerial responsibilities given to someone else.

But according to a new AARP study, "mature" employees are happier for it, due to a lower level of stress and a more flexible schedule in their new positions. Many are grateful to abandon the daily grind and use the slower-paced jobs to transition into retirement.

Of the 1,705 workers surveyed over a 14-year period beginning in 1992, a whopping 91% said they enjoyed their replacement jobs, compared with the 79% who liked the original positions. The employees were 51 to 55 years old when the study began and  65 to 69 years old when it concluded.

In the new jobs, the median hourly wage dropped to $10.86 from $16.86. Only 20% of respondents were covered by pensions, compared with the 61% covered in their old positions. Employers offered health insurance for 56% of the workers, a drop from the 70% who previously had access to company-sponsored care.

Whereas 22% said they made pay and promotion decisions in their original posts, 14% said the same after switching jobs.

But the new jobs were easier, with 36% of older workers citing stressful work conditions compared with the 65% who were under pressure in their past roles. Schedules lightened up for 45%. 

The switch also led more people to become self-employed -- 24% compared with the 12% who worked for themselves before making the change.

-- Tiffany Hsu

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