Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 25, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Baby Boomers: Preparing for an Aging Workforce—Part 1

  |   Video
  • studies reveal that the U.S. is shifting toward an older workforce. Labor shortages are projected in a growing number of economic sectors and employers are relying on older workers to fill the gap. AARP Director of Workforce Issues Deborah Russell joins HORIZON to discuss how many people are working beyond their traditional retirement age to retain health and other benefits.
Guests:
  • Bob Robb - Columnist, Arizona Republic
  • Jaime Molera - Former Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • John Loredo - Political consultant, Tequida & Gutierrez and former state legislator
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, congressman Rick Renzi is indicted on 35 counts -- the impact on the state and the elections; issues bubbling up in the state legislature and upcoming elections are confronted by our political antagonists in One On One; and we begin a three-part series on baby boomers in the workforce, next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Welcome to Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. On Friday, First District Congressman Rick Renzi was indicted on 35 counts of extortion, embezzlement, money-laundering, wire fraud and insurance fraud. Renzi could be looking at fines and a prison term if convicted, but his attorney says, the congressman would fight the charges until he is vindicated. Nevertheless, the Arizona Republic called for his resignation in an editorial yesterday. Republic columnist Bob Robb has also written about the congressman. He joins us now to analyze the potential fallout of the indictments. Bob, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Bob Robb:
Good to be here.

Ted Simons:
Who is -- or I guess politically speaking who was Rick Renzi?

Bob Robb:
He was actually a bit of a mystery. I think that's one of the lessons from this experience. He had attended Northern Arizona University. He had had a variety of different business interests, many of which are caught up in this indictment. And in 2002 he ran for a new congressional district that covered northern Arizona and eastern Arizona. And to the surprise of many, despite his lack of ties to the district, he won the republican primary and won the general election. He then was quite a -- someone who worked the district really hard, really worked hard at bringing home the bacon. So he did a good job perceived for the district and kept getting re-elected.

Ted Simons:
A surprise in the place, why was he elected in that first race? When you have a fresh face or new face, however you want to describe it, it's always a surprise when those people do well. Especially in a small rural district they'd want to see a home body.

Bob Robb:
It's been very much a mystery to me, that this is the district of all the congressional districts in Arizona that you would anticipate would want someone who knew the ropes, knew the land, knew the people. And yet on both the republican and democratic side, oftentimes it's been sort of an interloper that has gotten the nomination and in Renzi's case, the election. The home-grown talent have always run terrible campaigns. And so sometimes they didn't emerge from the primary. On the republican side in Renzi's case. Or not in the general election, first on the democratic side in the first time around. More recently there have been at least a Babbitt failed in that district, a Udall failed in that district. It's just simply been a combination of not having the right person running a good campaign. We would have those home-town ties.

Ted Simons:
Are there changing demographics in that region that suggest that maybe there's so many outsiders coming in they don't have the kind of background where a Babbitt and Udall name curries favor?

Bob Robb:
It's not a surprise when fresh face runs and is successful in metropolitan Phoenix and to a lesser extent Tucson. In rural Arizona, if you look at the people that they send to the legislature, they're mostly people that have lived in that area virtually all their lives. And it's not a -- there is a lot of population growth but a lot of its second homes. And the political heart of the district remains pretty old-style, country, rural Arizona. And it's been, as I said, quite a mystery to me why they haven't produced one of their own that they're willing to send to Washington to represent them.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the allegations right now against Rick Renzi. I know there are two major aspects to this. Talk about them if you will.

Bob Robb:
There's 35 counts, but it really boils down to two general misdeeds. The first is the allegation that he embezzled $400,000 from his insurance companies that was being held in trust to purchase insurance policies for clients of his and used a significant portion of those funds to illegally fund this first campaign for congress. The second is that he tried to force the inclusion of a particular piece of property in land exchanges that had to go through congress and that he needed to sponsor because of where they were located. A piece of property that belonged to a business associate of his who owed him in excess of $700,000 so that the business associate could repay Renzi. So that's the essence of the charge. There's maybe sort of half another significant charge, which is the failure to report the income from the land ultimate successful land sale in the disclosure requirements that congressmen are required to make by federal law.

Ted Simons:
That embezzlement charge and those as allegations, though, those are the ones that could hit him behind bars.

Bob Robb:
I think that's very serious. Because this wasn't money, according to the indictment, that can be argued to have been Renzi's or owned by Renzi's business. Renzi was in essence acting as a broker. And he was collecting money from clients and then was going to use that money held in trust to purchase insurance policies for those clients. And the allegation is that he embezzled that trust money that can in no way be argued to have belonged to the insurance company which Renzi and his wife owned.

Ted Simons:
Which is one of the reasons why you are not seeing G.O.P. leadership or anyone else in the party anywhere near the man right now. That being said, can he effectively represent that district right now? Should he resign?

Bob Robb:
Well, he hasn't been well-representing the district for some time. Once these allegations arose he withdrew from the committees on which he served. So he's basically simply a vote on the floor of congress. The issue of whether he resigns is a very interesting and tricky one. If he resigns prior to May 4th there has to be a special primary election and general election followed by the ordinarily scheduled primary election and general election. So four elections in a period of seven and eight months to fill this seat. If he waits until after May 4th, the position is vacant. But you would only have the regularly-scheduled primary and general election. So the question -- let's assume that he wants to do what's best for the state of Arizona. Is what's best for the state of Arizona resigning quickly so that his position can be filled in this special election? Or is it to wait until after May 4th and spare the people of northern and eastern Arizona four elections in a very short period of time?

Ted Simons:
What does the Republican Party want him to do? What do the democrats? What would they like to see him do?

Bob Robb:
Well, in terms of what's in their best interests, I think the quicker the elections the better for the democrats. Because I think they're better prepared to have the election. The republicans are still sort of sorting through candidates. And I think the closer the election happens to Renzi's misdeeds and his indictment, the better for the democrats in a year that is generally trending towards democrats, anyway. Republicans probably would be better off in terms of salvaging the seat if Renzi waited until after May 4th and gave them until November to try to make Renzi a memory and make a new republican face the republican face in the district. On the other hand, at the national level, republicans are still smarting from the feeling that they were slow on the corruption issues prior to the 2006 election, and so I think national democrats are sort of anxious to get rid of the guy as quickly as possible.

Ted Simons:
All right. Good stuff, bob. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Bob Robb:
Good to be with you.

Ted Simons:
Now two political types going One-On-One tonight, Jaime Molera and former Superintendent of Public Instruction goes head-to-head with John Loredo, a political consultant with Tequida & Gutierrez and a former state legislator.

Jaime Molera:
Well, it's groundhog day in Arizona because I know you're going to be shocked. But there's a budget stalemate that's going on right now.

John Loredo:
You're kidding me.

Jaime Molera:
Between the governor and the state legislature. And there was a new wrinkle this last week where there was another -- yet another federal court decision saying that there was a problem with the English language learner programs in the state, which could have literally 100, $150 million if not more impact on what the state would have to spend in order to comply with this federal mandate. So that on top of the existing in the fiscal year '08 budget 1.15 billion deficit that they have to deal with, then in fiscal year '091.8 billion or close to $2 billion deficit. A little $100 million hits every now and then tend to hurt, you know. Given the kind of budget resolve. But one of the things that's interesting I've seen over this last couple of weeks is that legislature has been fighting against the governor. Fighting against what she's trying to do, either debt or more spending or whatever it might be. And one of the things I think the republicans need to start doing and need to position themselves better is what they stand for.

John Loredo:
Sure.

Jaime Molera:
I think they need to stand for -- whether it's fiscal responsibility, standing for making sure that we have budgets that won't cause us to have shortfall deficits, standing for the kind of things that make sense to a lot of Arizonans rather than just being against something.

John Loredo:
And I think that's a big problem. And if you look at the last time there was a very large budget deficit, I think there were only 20 Democrats in the house. And so the republican caucus was a lot bigger. Now there are 27 Democrats and the Republican caucus has shrunk. But they're still holding onto the -- we have to have 31 Republicans on the budget. That makes it very, very difficult to come up with a set of issues and areas to cut from. It makes it very difficult to come up with 31 votes. And because the caucus is simply fractured into different groups. For some folks, bonding is acceptable. For others it's completely off the table. So you have philosophical differences that I think prevent them from making any progress. They simply can't come up with the votes. And we've seen this before. And eventually what will have to happen is that there's going to have to be 31 votes with democrats and republicans combined in order to make anything move.

Jaime Molera: And the republicans need to, like I said, they need to come up with a plan that just doesn't cut a bunch of things. They have to come up with a plan that shows that they're being fiscally responsible in this kind of time.

John Loredo:
Yes. Another issue, up in northern Arizona, Rick Renzi has been indicted by a federal grand jury. That has really kind of thrown another huge wrench into the political season here in Arizona. Now people trying to figure out how exactly we're going to deal with this if Renzi happens to resign.

Jaime Molera:
Well, it's one of those things -- I know the democrats are salivating like Pavlov's dog. They're seeing another seat that they're going to get. But it's still a republican district. And republicans need to try and galvanize around a candidate that can really bring together the conservative base, which is very, very strong. Yavapai County is a very strong republican base. But at the same time there's a lot of strong independence. And up in the northern Arizona, the Coconino areas in Flagstaff there's a lot of independent or moderate republicans. So if they can get a candidate that does well with the base but kind of like John McCain that kind of appeals to the independents and keeps especially the women republican vote, it's going to be very tough for democrats to take that seat away from them.

John Loredo:
Well, I think another big wrench is if Renzi actually resigns then the governor has to call a special election. And that really accelerates, you know -- I think there were a lot of people who figured, well, we've got awhile to raise money and we can come up with a campaign structure.

Jaime Molera:
Fire sale.

John Loredo:
Yeah. Then you've only got a couple of people on the democratic side, Ann Kirkpatrick and Mary Quintilla who even have a campaign structure in place to compete for this thing. I think the edge goes to Kirkpatrick who has half a million bucks in the bank.

Jaime Molera:
And the one race that avoided a fire sale was on the republican side in C.D. 3 with John Shadegg. John Shadegg of course everybody knows decided after an unprecedented move. I've never heard of this before. Where about 100, 140 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives said, John, we don't want you to resign. We want you to stay. You've been a leader, a strong fiscal conservative. And so he decided I think after a lot of thought and talking it over with his family to stay on and run for re-election, stand for re-election. I know he has a challenge from Bob Lord on the democratic side. He's also going to get challenged from Steve May. But again, this is another one where 15 to 20-point advantage. I know the democrats are also salivating over there.

Jaime Molera:
Sure.

John Loredo:
And they've compared it to what happened with J.D. Hayworth. But Shadegg is no J.D. Hayworth.

Jaime Molera:
But I think it's going to be a bad year all the way around for republican candidates, especially congressional. But I think, you know, as for Shadegg, I think he puts himself in a pretty interesting position, having gone on camera and said, well, I don't like being in the minority anymore so I quit. And then having to come back and say, well, now I take that back. I'm going to go ahead and run again.

John Loredo:
But I think there's a difference. The biggest difference is that he was going to resign based on family reasons, based on he just didn't like the culture of Washington.

Jaime Molera:
He didn't like being in the minority. But when you have 140 of your colleagues say that you stand for the kinds of things we want our republican party to stand for, that's going to make a difference. And republicans from the more moderate republicans to even the most conservative republicans like somebody that has values. And the ones that lost were the ones that were deemed to be not really embodying the notion of what republicanism stands for. And surely John Shadegg is one of the best republicans we've got.

John Loredo:
Sure. I think the arguments on the democratic side is, people of the district here, you really should be represented by someone in the majority. And that's why you should vote democrat. On the other side, another issue is Senator John McCain. He has run into a great deal of trouble now. Kind of a road block that I think he's handled pretty well. "New York Times" article raised all kinds of questions about his finances and his personal life. And he seemed to deal with it, from my perspective, pretty effectively in getting around it pretty quickly. I think the problem now is that you've got other people, including Romney now saying that maybe I'll jump in after all. You know, maybe I'll get back into this with my 300 delegates. You've got Huckabee on the other side.

Jaime Molera:
Well, one of the reasons John McCain handled it well is because it's because there really was no there there. The "New York Times" ran a story that even a lot of their colleagues are starting to distance themselves. They're starting to see that when John McCain came out as vehemently as he did, his team came out and put together a very good defense of it. And they were able to say, this is just not a story. It actually I think has helped him. And I think it will help him over the several months. But we'll see how that goes. And only time will tell.

Ted Simons:
Tonight we begin our three-part series -- baby boomers: preparing for an aging workforce. A growing number of economic sectors in the U.S. are facing labor shortages. At the same time, studies by the AARP and other organizations show U.S. worker demographics shifting toward an older workforce. Deborah Russell, AARP Director of Workforce Issues in Washington D.C., spoke with Merry Lucero about why many people are working beyond their traditional retirement age.

Merry Lucero:
Deborah Russell, thanks so much for sitting down with me.

Deborah Russel;:
My pleasure.

Merry Lucero:
How are U.S. worker demographics telling us there are more older workers come into the work force now?

Deborah Russell:
Well, there's 78 million boomers in the work force right now. And boomers are those who were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. So we've got sort of the leading edge boomers who have just turned 62 who will be 65 in 2011. We're going to have a cohort of work force that is going to work longer than ever before in history. So unlike our parents who retired at 65 and basically golfed or were no longer in the labor force, we now have a cohort that are going to be in the labor force much longer. And our research has told us that they plan on working at least into their 70's and perhaps into their 80's, which is huge in terms of thinking about some of the employer's perspective, how much long can I invest in someone who is in their 50's or in their 60's? Well, you may have as much as 10 to 15 years of commitment on the part of that mature worker.

Merry Lucero:
And are there more employers having difficulty recruiting and retaining skilled workers?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. As we talked to employers, certainly the issue of people who have the skills for the jobs is a real huge issue for employers. They also recognize that in -- particularly in some industries that they just can't rely on a younger work force. Even the demographics show that there are just less younger workers coming into the work force. Which means that employers are going to have to look at different labor pools in order to do the work. Health care is a great example where you're talking about less younger people coming into the field of nursing, for instance. Which means that a lot of hospitals are forced to re-strategize their recruitment tactics looking at retaining those nurses that are still working in those hospitals and even reaching out to retired nurses and encouraging them to come back into the work force.

Merry Lucero:
So are we having sort of a concurrent phenomenon going on right now with people staying in the work force longer, people going back to work, and also people starting new careers for the first time?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. All of those things going on. You have an older work force who, based on AARP research, says that they're looking for new and different opportunities. So yeah, they're going to work longer but not necessarily wanting to work that 40 hour work week or not necessarily interested in continuing to supervise large numbers of people. What we hear oftentimes is, I want to have an impact. I want to do something that's really going to have an impact or get at least some sort of legacy. And so we are looking at a demographic that's looking to transition into new opportunities. And even perhaps even into new careers. Which will have a whole new set of implications in terms of how do we -- what kind of training and re-skilling is going to take place in order for people to successfully transfer into new careers.

Merry Lucero:
What are some of the issues that both employers and employees are facing with the multigenerational workplace of today? You've got a lot of new technology, and also a lot of changing attitudes in the workplace environment.

Deborah Russell:
Managing that multigenerational is going to be a challenge for employers. Because people's experiences are different, you know. They've grown up in different eras. And so therefore their experiences are different. However, there really is no empirical data that shows that older workers are incapable of learning new technology. They may have to, you know, it may take them longer to learn the technology. They may have to learn it in a different kind of way, which is important around looking at adult learning principles. It's about learning it, trying it hands-on, learning it, trying it hands-on. Those of us who were boomers did not grow up with computers. It was something we had to learn. But all the data shows that once you've learned how to use the computer, there is a very low margin of error, if you will. And you can see that in things like companies who have like customer service reps who are hotel agents, for instance. They have shown that because all of that is computerized, that there is a much lower margin of error on the part of older workers than it is for younger workers. So, you know, again the challenge is really going to be around having the right kind of learning environment for mature workers to learn things like technology and that sort of thing. But the attitude around learning new technology is definitely very positive.

Merry Lucero:
Now, you mentioned people wanting to find meaning in their work. Wanting to leave a legacy. But with the economy where it is right now, isn't a big part of people continuing to work just simply financial?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. The same report that told us that boomers were going to work past traditional retirement age, we asked what were the top two reasons for why they would remain working. And the top two reasons were because of money and because of health insurance. Boomers are just not prepared financially for retirement. For a variety of reasons. We're having children and marrying later in life. We are care givers now of our aging parents. So there are a lot of different reasons for why we're not prepared financially. But nonetheless we're not. And the belief is that boomers are going to finance their retirement by working. That idea of retiring and no longer working is for the very few. That boomers are going to really reinvent retirement, and it's going to be much more cyclical in that people will be in and out of the work force for a variety of reasons and that we're healthier, we're living longer. The prospect of working longer is much more doable today in an information age than it was years ago when a lot of the work that we did was physical.

Merry Lucero:
How important is it for community-based organizations to get onboard with this whole idea of helping to educate and prepare workers and employers for new older workers coming into the work force?

Deborah Russell:
I think it's critical. Community-based organizations oftentimes are the glue, if you will individuals navigate all kinds of different systems, including the work force. So I think what the role the community-based organizations are going to play is really sort of connecting the needs of employers with the needs of workers, if you will. So if you think of, for instance, community colleges, the role that community colleges are going to play is really the connector between those individuals, mature workers, who are looking to transition or coming into the work force for the first time or whatever that circumstance sort of spitting out, if you will, a very well-trained and a very well-relevant worker.

Merry Lucero:
Deborah Russell, thanks so much for sitting down and talking with me.

Deborah Russell:
My pleasure. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Tomorrow night we continue our series baby boomers, preparing for an aging work force. We look at a program at Scottsdale health care designed to keep and attract boomers. That's Tuesday on Horizon. Also Tuesday the latest Cronkite-Eight poll, Dr. Bruce Merrill pole director along with associate director Tara Blanc will be here to discuss results. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

One on One

  |   Video
  • Jaime Molera, former Superintendent of Public Instruction, and former State Legislator John Loredo join us in our regular Monday night segment featuring two viewpoints on important State Legislature issues.
Guests:
  • Bob Robb - Columnist, Arizona Republic
  • Jaime Molera - Former Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • John Loredo - Political consultant, Tequida & Gutierrez and former state legislator
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, congressman Rick Renzi is indicted on 35 counts -- the impact on the state and the elections; issues bubbling up in the state legislature and upcoming elections are confronted by our political antagonists in One On One; and we begin a three-part series on baby boomers in the workforce, next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Welcome to Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. On Friday, First District Congressman Rick Renzi was indicted on 35 counts of extortion, embezzlement, money-laundering, wire fraud and insurance fraud. Renzi could be looking at fines and a prison term if convicted, but his attorney says, the congressman would fight the charges until he is vindicated. Nevertheless, the Arizona Republic called for his resignation in an editorial yesterday. Republic columnist Bob Robb has also written about the congressman. He joins us now to analyze the potential fallout of the indictments. Bob, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Bob Robb:
Good to be here.

Ted Simons:
Who is -- or I guess politically speaking who was Rick Renzi?

Bob Robb:
He was actually a bit of a mystery. I think that's one of the lessons from this experience. He had attended Northern Arizona University. He had had a variety of different business interests, many of which are caught up in this indictment. And in 2002 he ran for a new congressional district that covered northern Arizona and eastern Arizona. And to the surprise of many, despite his lack of ties to the district, he won the republican primary and won the general election. He then was quite a -- someone who worked the district really hard, really worked hard at bringing home the bacon. So he did a good job perceived for the district and kept getting re-elected.

Ted Simons:
A surprise in the place, why was he elected in that first race? When you have a fresh face or new face, however you want to describe it, it's always a surprise when those people do well. Especially in a small rural district they'd want to see a home body.

Bob Robb:
It's been very much a mystery to me, that this is the district of all the congressional districts in Arizona that you would anticipate would want someone who knew the ropes, knew the land, knew the people. And yet on both the republican and democratic side, oftentimes it's been sort of an interloper that has gotten the nomination and in Renzi's case, the election. The home-grown talent have always run terrible campaigns. And so sometimes they didn't emerge from the primary. On the republican side in Renzi's case. Or not in the general election, first on the democratic side in the first time around. More recently there have been at least a Babbitt failed in that district, a Udall failed in that district. It's just simply been a combination of not having the right person running a good campaign. We would have those home-town ties.

Ted Simons:
Are there changing demographics in that region that suggest that maybe there's so many outsiders coming in they don't have the kind of background where a Babbitt and Udall name curries favor?

Bob Robb:
It's not a surprise when fresh face runs and is successful in metropolitan Phoenix and to a lesser extent Tucson. In rural Arizona, if you look at the people that they send to the legislature, they're mostly people that have lived in that area virtually all their lives. And it's not a -- there is a lot of population growth but a lot of its second homes. And the political heart of the district remains pretty old-style, country, rural Arizona. And it's been, as I said, quite a mystery to me why they haven't produced one of their own that they're willing to send to Washington to represent them.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the allegations right now against Rick Renzi. I know there are two major aspects to this. Talk about them if you will.

Bob Robb:
There's 35 counts, but it really boils down to two general misdeeds. The first is the allegation that he embezzled $400,000 from his insurance companies that was being held in trust to purchase insurance policies for clients of his and used a significant portion of those funds to illegally fund this first campaign for congress. The second is that he tried to force the inclusion of a particular piece of property in land exchanges that had to go through congress and that he needed to sponsor because of where they were located. A piece of property that belonged to a business associate of his who owed him in excess of $700,000 so that the business associate could repay Renzi. So that's the essence of the charge. There's maybe sort of half another significant charge, which is the failure to report the income from the land ultimate successful land sale in the disclosure requirements that congressmen are required to make by federal law.

Ted Simons:
That embezzlement charge and those as allegations, though, those are the ones that could hit him behind bars.

Bob Robb:
I think that's very serious. Because this wasn't money, according to the indictment, that can be argued to have been Renzi's or owned by Renzi's business. Renzi was in essence acting as a broker. And he was collecting money from clients and then was going to use that money held in trust to purchase insurance policies for those clients. And the allegation is that he embezzled that trust money that can in no way be argued to have belonged to the insurance company which Renzi and his wife owned.

Ted Simons:
Which is one of the reasons why you are not seeing G.O.P. leadership or anyone else in the party anywhere near the man right now. That being said, can he effectively represent that district right now? Should he resign?

Bob Robb:
Well, he hasn't been well-representing the district for some time. Once these allegations arose he withdrew from the committees on which he served. So he's basically simply a vote on the floor of congress. The issue of whether he resigns is a very interesting and tricky one. If he resigns prior to May 4th there has to be a special primary election and general election followed by the ordinarily scheduled primary election and general election. So four elections in a period of seven and eight months to fill this seat. If he waits until after May 4th, the position is vacant. But you would only have the regularly-scheduled primary and general election. So the question -- let's assume that he wants to do what's best for the state of Arizona. Is what's best for the state of Arizona resigning quickly so that his position can be filled in this special election? Or is it to wait until after May 4th and spare the people of northern and eastern Arizona four elections in a very short period of time?

Ted Simons:
What does the Republican Party want him to do? What do the democrats? What would they like to see him do?

Bob Robb:
Well, in terms of what's in their best interests, I think the quicker the elections the better for the democrats. Because I think they're better prepared to have the election. The republicans are still sort of sorting through candidates. And I think the closer the election happens to Renzi's misdeeds and his indictment, the better for the democrats in a year that is generally trending towards democrats, anyway. Republicans probably would be better off in terms of salvaging the seat if Renzi waited until after May 4th and gave them until November to try to make Renzi a memory and make a new republican face the republican face in the district. On the other hand, at the national level, republicans are still smarting from the feeling that they were slow on the corruption issues prior to the 2006 election, and so I think national democrats are sort of anxious to get rid of the guy as quickly as possible.

Ted Simons:
All right. Good stuff, bob. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Bob Robb:
Good to be with you.

Ted Simons:
Now two political types going One-On-One tonight, Jaime Molera and former Superintendent of Public Instruction goes head-to-head with John Loredo, a political consultant with Tequida & Gutierrez and a former state legislator.

Jaime Molera:
Well, it's groundhog day in Arizona because I know you're going to be shocked. But there's a budget stalemate that's going on right now.

John Loredo:
You're kidding me.

Jaime Molera:
Between the governor and the state legislature. And there was a new wrinkle this last week where there was another -- yet another federal court decision saying that there was a problem with the English language learner programs in the state, which could have literally 100, $150 million if not more impact on what the state would have to spend in order to comply with this federal mandate. So that on top of the existing in the fiscal year '08 budget 1.15 billion deficit that they have to deal with, then in fiscal year '091.8 billion or close to $2 billion deficit. A little $100 million hits every now and then tend to hurt, you know. Given the kind of budget resolve. But one of the things that's interesting I've seen over this last couple of weeks is that legislature has been fighting against the governor. Fighting against what she's trying to do, either debt or more spending or whatever it might be. And one of the things I think the republicans need to start doing and need to position themselves better is what they stand for.

John Loredo:
Sure.

Jaime Molera:
I think they need to stand for -- whether it's fiscal responsibility, standing for making sure that we have budgets that won't cause us to have shortfall deficits, standing for the kind of things that make sense to a lot of Arizonans rather than just being against something.

John Loredo:
And I think that's a big problem. And if you look at the last time there was a very large budget deficit, I think there were only 20 Democrats in the house. And so the republican caucus was a lot bigger. Now there are 27 Democrats and the Republican caucus has shrunk. But they're still holding onto the -- we have to have 31 Republicans on the budget. That makes it very, very difficult to come up with a set of issues and areas to cut from. It makes it very difficult to come up with 31 votes. And because the caucus is simply fractured into different groups. For some folks, bonding is acceptable. For others it's completely off the table. So you have philosophical differences that I think prevent them from making any progress. They simply can't come up with the votes. And we've seen this before. And eventually what will have to happen is that there's going to have to be 31 votes with democrats and republicans combined in order to make anything move.

Jaime Molera: And the republicans need to, like I said, they need to come up with a plan that just doesn't cut a bunch of things. They have to come up with a plan that shows that they're being fiscally responsible in this kind of time.

John Loredo:
Yes. Another issue, up in northern Arizona, Rick Renzi has been indicted by a federal grand jury. That has really kind of thrown another huge wrench into the political season here in Arizona. Now people trying to figure out how exactly we're going to deal with this if Renzi happens to resign.

Jaime Molera:
Well, it's one of those things -- I know the democrats are salivating like Pavlov's dog. They're seeing another seat that they're going to get. But it's still a republican district. And republicans need to try and galvanize around a candidate that can really bring together the conservative base, which is very, very strong. Yavapai County is a very strong republican base. But at the same time there's a lot of strong independence. And up in the northern Arizona, the Coconino areas in Flagstaff there's a lot of independent or moderate republicans. So if they can get a candidate that does well with the base but kind of like John McCain that kind of appeals to the independents and keeps especially the women republican vote, it's going to be very tough for democrats to take that seat away from them.

John Loredo:
Well, I think another big wrench is if Renzi actually resigns then the governor has to call a special election. And that really accelerates, you know -- I think there were a lot of people who figured, well, we've got awhile to raise money and we can come up with a campaign structure.

Jaime Molera:
Fire sale.

John Loredo:
Yeah. Then you've only got a couple of people on the democratic side, Ann Kirkpatrick and Mary Quintilla who even have a campaign structure in place to compete for this thing. I think the edge goes to Kirkpatrick who has half a million bucks in the bank.

Jaime Molera:
And the one race that avoided a fire sale was on the republican side in C.D. 3 with John Shadegg. John Shadegg of course everybody knows decided after an unprecedented move. I've never heard of this before. Where about 100, 140 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives said, John, we don't want you to resign. We want you to stay. You've been a leader, a strong fiscal conservative. And so he decided I think after a lot of thought and talking it over with his family to stay on and run for re-election, stand for re-election. I know he has a challenge from Bob Lord on the democratic side. He's also going to get challenged from Steve May. But again, this is another one where 15 to 20-point advantage. I know the democrats are also salivating over there.

Jaime Molera:
Sure.

John Loredo:
And they've compared it to what happened with J.D. Hayworth. But Shadegg is no J.D. Hayworth.

Jaime Molera:
But I think it's going to be a bad year all the way around for republican candidates, especially congressional. But I think, you know, as for Shadegg, I think he puts himself in a pretty interesting position, having gone on camera and said, well, I don't like being in the minority anymore so I quit. And then having to come back and say, well, now I take that back. I'm going to go ahead and run again.

John Loredo:
But I think there's a difference. The biggest difference is that he was going to resign based on family reasons, based on he just didn't like the culture of Washington.

Jaime Molera:
He didn't like being in the minority. But when you have 140 of your colleagues say that you stand for the kinds of things we want our republican party to stand for, that's going to make a difference. And republicans from the more moderate republicans to even the most conservative republicans like somebody that has values. And the ones that lost were the ones that were deemed to be not really embodying the notion of what republicanism stands for. And surely John Shadegg is one of the best republicans we've got.

John Loredo:
Sure. I think the arguments on the democratic side is, people of the district here, you really should be represented by someone in the majority. And that's why you should vote democrat. On the other side, another issue is Senator John McCain. He has run into a great deal of trouble now. Kind of a road block that I think he's handled pretty well. "New York Times" article raised all kinds of questions about his finances and his personal life. And he seemed to deal with it, from my perspective, pretty effectively in getting around it pretty quickly. I think the problem now is that you've got other people, including Romney now saying that maybe I'll jump in after all. You know, maybe I'll get back into this with my 300 delegates. You've got Huckabee on the other side.

Jaime Molera:
Well, one of the reasons John McCain handled it well is because it's because there really was no there there. The "New York Times" ran a story that even a lot of their colleagues are starting to distance themselves. They're starting to see that when John McCain came out as vehemently as he did, his team came out and put together a very good defense of it. And they were able to say, this is just not a story. It actually I think has helped him. And I think it will help him over the several months. But we'll see how that goes. And only time will tell.

Ted Simons:
Tonight we begin our three-part series -- baby boomers: preparing for an aging workforce. A growing number of economic sectors in the U.S. are facing labor shortages. At the same time, studies by the AARP and other organizations show U.S. worker demographics shifting toward an older workforce. Deborah Russell, AARP Director of Workforce Issues in Washington D.C., spoke with Merry Lucero about why many people are working beyond their traditional retirement age.

Merry Lucero:
Deborah Russell, thanks so much for sitting down with me.

Deborah Russel;:
My pleasure.

Merry Lucero:
How are U.S. worker demographics telling us there are more older workers come into the work force now?

Deborah Russell:
Well, there's 78 million boomers in the work force right now. And boomers are those who were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. So we've got sort of the leading edge boomers who have just turned 62 who will be 65 in 2011. We're going to have a cohort of work force that is going to work longer than ever before in history. So unlike our parents who retired at 65 and basically golfed or were no longer in the labor force, we now have a cohort that are going to be in the labor force much longer. And our research has told us that they plan on working at least into their 70's and perhaps into their 80's, which is huge in terms of thinking about some of the employer's perspective, how much long can I invest in someone who is in their 50's or in their 60's? Well, you may have as much as 10 to 15 years of commitment on the part of that mature worker.

Merry Lucero:
And are there more employers having difficulty recruiting and retaining skilled workers?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. As we talked to employers, certainly the issue of people who have the skills for the jobs is a real huge issue for employers. They also recognize that in -- particularly in some industries that they just can't rely on a younger work force. Even the demographics show that there are just less younger workers coming into the work force. Which means that employers are going to have to look at different labor pools in order to do the work. Health care is a great example where you're talking about less younger people coming into the field of nursing, for instance. Which means that a lot of hospitals are forced to re-strategize their recruitment tactics looking at retaining those nurses that are still working in those hospitals and even reaching out to retired nurses and encouraging them to come back into the work force.

Merry Lucero:
So are we having sort of a concurrent phenomenon going on right now with people staying in the work force longer, people going back to work, and also people starting new careers for the first time?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. All of those things going on. You have an older work force who, based on AARP research, says that they're looking for new and different opportunities. So yeah, they're going to work longer but not necessarily wanting to work that 40 hour work week or not necessarily interested in continuing to supervise large numbers of people. What we hear oftentimes is, I want to have an impact. I want to do something that's really going to have an impact or get at least some sort of legacy. And so we are looking at a demographic that's looking to transition into new opportunities. And even perhaps even into new careers. Which will have a whole new set of implications in terms of how do we -- what kind of training and re-skilling is going to take place in order for people to successfully transfer into new careers.

Merry Lucero:
What are some of the issues that both employers and employees are facing with the multigenerational workplace of today? You've got a lot of new technology, and also a lot of changing attitudes in the workplace environment.

Deborah Russell:
Managing that multigenerational is going to be a challenge for employers. Because people's experiences are different, you know. They've grown up in different eras. And so therefore their experiences are different. However, there really is no empirical data that shows that older workers are incapable of learning new technology. They may have to, you know, it may take them longer to learn the technology. They may have to learn it in a different kind of way, which is important around looking at adult learning principles. It's about learning it, trying it hands-on, learning it, trying it hands-on. Those of us who were boomers did not grow up with computers. It was something we had to learn. But all the data shows that once you've learned how to use the computer, there is a very low margin of error, if you will. And you can see that in things like companies who have like customer service reps who are hotel agents, for instance. They have shown that because all of that is computerized, that there is a much lower margin of error on the part of older workers than it is for younger workers. So, you know, again the challenge is really going to be around having the right kind of learning environment for mature workers to learn things like technology and that sort of thing. But the attitude around learning new technology is definitely very positive.

Merry Lucero:
Now, you mentioned people wanting to find meaning in their work. Wanting to leave a legacy. But with the economy where it is right now, isn't a big part of people continuing to work just simply financial?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. The same report that told us that boomers were going to work past traditional retirement age, we asked what were the top two reasons for why they would remain working. And the top two reasons were because of money and because of health insurance. Boomers are just not prepared financially for retirement. For a variety of reasons. We're having children and marrying later in life. We are care givers now of our aging parents. So there are a lot of different reasons for why we're not prepared financially. But nonetheless we're not. And the belief is that boomers are going to finance their retirement by working. That idea of retiring and no longer working is for the very few. That boomers are going to really reinvent retirement, and it's going to be much more cyclical in that people will be in and out of the work force for a variety of reasons and that we're healthier, we're living longer. The prospect of working longer is much more doable today in an information age than it was years ago when a lot of the work that we did was physical.

Merry Lucero:
How important is it for community-based organizations to get onboard with this whole idea of helping to educate and prepare workers and employers for new older workers coming into the work force?

Deborah Russell:
I think it's critical. Community-based organizations oftentimes are the glue, if you will individuals navigate all kinds of different systems, including the work force. So I think what the role the community-based organizations are going to play is really sort of connecting the needs of employers with the needs of workers, if you will. So if you think of, for instance, community colleges, the role that community colleges are going to play is really the connector between those individuals, mature workers, who are looking to transition or coming into the work force for the first time or whatever that circumstance sort of spitting out, if you will, a very well-trained and a very well-relevant worker.

Merry Lucero:
Deborah Russell, thanks so much for sitting down and talking with me.

Deborah Russell:
My pleasure. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Tomorrow night we continue our series baby boomers, preparing for an aging work force. We look at a program at Scottsdale health care designed to keep and attract boomers. That's Tuesday on Horizon. Also Tuesday the latest Cronkite-Eight poll, Dr. Bruce Merrill pole director along with associate director Tara Blanc will be here to discuss results. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

Rep. Rick Renzi

  |   Video
  • Arizona Republic Editorial Columnist Bob Robb talks about the impact of the 35 count indictment handed to First District Congressman Rick Renzi.
Guests:
  • Bob Robb - Columnist, Arizona Republic
  • Jaime Molera - Former Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • John Loredo - Political consultant, Tequida & Gutierrez and former state legislator


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, congressman Rick Renzi is indicted on 35 counts -- the impact on the state and the elections; issues bubbling up in the state legislature and upcoming elections are confronted by our political antagonists in One On One; and we begin a three-part series on baby boomers in the workforce, next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Welcome to Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. On Friday, First District Congressman Rick Renzi was indicted on 35 counts of extortion, embezzlement, money-laundering, wire fraud and insurance fraud. Renzi could be looking at fines and a prison term if convicted, but his attorney says, the congressman would fight the charges until he is vindicated. Nevertheless, the Arizona Republic called for his resignation in an editorial yesterday. Republic columnist Bob Robb has also written about the congressman. He joins us now to analyze the potential fallout of the indictments. Bob, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Bob Robb:
Good to be here.

Ted Simons:
Who is -- or I guess politically speaking who was Rick Renzi?

Bob Robb:
He was actually a bit of a mystery. I think that's one of the lessons from this experience. He had attended Northern Arizona University. He had had a variety of different business interests, many of which are caught up in this indictment. And in 2002 he ran for a new congressional district that covered northern Arizona and eastern Arizona. And to the surprise of many, despite his lack of ties to the district, he won the republican primary and won the general election. He then was quite a -- someone who worked the district really hard, really worked hard at bringing home the bacon. So he did a good job perceived for the district and kept getting re-elected.

Ted Simons:
A surprise in the place, why was he elected in that first race? When you have a fresh face or new face, however you want to describe it, it's always a surprise when those people do well. Especially in a small rural district they'd want to see a home body.

Bob Robb:
It's been very much a mystery to me, that this is the district of all the congressional districts in Arizona that you would anticipate would want someone who knew the ropes, knew the land, knew the people. And yet on both the republican and democratic side, oftentimes it's been sort of an interloper that has gotten the nomination and in Renzi's case, the election. The home-grown talent have always run terrible campaigns. And so sometimes they didn't emerge from the primary. On the republican side in Renzi's case. Or not in the general election, first on the democratic side in the first time around. More recently there have been at least a Babbitt failed in that district, a Udall failed in that district. It's just simply been a combination of not having the right person running a good campaign. We would have those home-town ties.

Ted Simons:
Are there changing demographics in that region that suggest that maybe there's so many outsiders coming in they don't have the kind of background where a Babbitt and Udall name curries favor?

Bob Robb:
It's not a surprise when fresh face runs and is successful in metropolitan Phoenix and to a lesser extent Tucson. In rural Arizona, if you look at the people that they send to the legislature, they're mostly people that have lived in that area virtually all their lives. And it's not a -- there is a lot of population growth but a lot of its second homes. And the political heart of the district remains pretty old-style, country, rural Arizona. And it's been, as I said, quite a mystery to me why they haven't produced one of their own that they're willing to send to Washington to represent them.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the allegations right now against Rick Renzi. I know there are two major aspects to this. Talk about them if you will.

Bob Robb:
There's 35 counts, but it really boils down to two general misdeeds. The first is the allegation that he embezzled $400,000 from his insurance companies that was being held in trust to purchase insurance policies for clients of his and used a significant portion of those funds to illegally fund this first campaign for congress. The second is that he tried to force the inclusion of a particular piece of property in land exchanges that had to go through congress and that he needed to sponsor because of where they were located. A piece of property that belonged to a business associate of his who owed him in excess of $700,000 so that the business associate could repay Renzi. So that's the essence of the charge. There's maybe sort of half another significant charge, which is the failure to report the income from the land ultimate successful land sale in the disclosure requirements that congressmen are required to make by federal law.

Ted Simons:
That embezzlement charge and those as allegations, though, those are the ones that could hit him behind bars.

Bob Robb:
I think that's very serious. Because this wasn't money, according to the indictment, that can be argued to have been Renzi's or owned by Renzi's business. Renzi was in essence acting as a broker. And he was collecting money from clients and then was going to use that money held in trust to purchase insurance policies for those clients. And the allegation is that he embezzled that trust money that can in no way be argued to have belonged to the insurance company which Renzi and his wife owned.

Ted Simons:
Which is one of the reasons why you are not seeing G.O.P. leadership or anyone else in the party anywhere near the man right now. That being said, can he effectively represent that district right now? Should he resign?

Bob Robb:
Well, he hasn't been well-representing the district for some time. Once these allegations arose he withdrew from the committees on which he served. So he's basically simply a vote on the floor of congress. The issue of whether he resigns is a very interesting and tricky one. If he resigns prior to May 4th there has to be a special primary election and general election followed by the ordinarily scheduled primary election and general election. So four elections in a period of seven and eight months to fill this seat. If he waits until after May 4th, the position is vacant. But you would only have the regularly-scheduled primary and general election. So the question -- let's assume that he wants to do what's best for the state of Arizona. Is what's best for the state of Arizona resigning quickly so that his position can be filled in this special election? Or is it to wait until after May 4th and spare the people of northern and eastern Arizona four elections in a very short period of time?

Ted Simons:
What does the Republican Party want him to do? What do the democrats? What would they like to see him do?

Bob Robb:
Well, in terms of what's in their best interests, I think the quicker the elections the better for the democrats. Because I think they're better prepared to have the election. The republicans are still sort of sorting through candidates. And I think the closer the election happens to Renzi's misdeeds and his indictment, the better for the democrats in a year that is generally trending towards democrats, anyway. Republicans probably would be better off in terms of salvaging the seat if Renzi waited until after May 4th and gave them until November to try to make Renzi a memory and make a new republican face the republican face in the district. On the other hand, at the national level, republicans are still smarting from the feeling that they were slow on the corruption issues prior to the 2006 election, and so I think national democrats are sort of anxious to get rid of the guy as quickly as possible.

Ted Simons:
All right. Good stuff, bob. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Bob Robb:
Good to be with you.

Ted Simons:
Now two political types going One-On-One tonight, Jaime Molera and former Superintendent of Public Instruction goes head-to-head with John Loredo, a political consultant with Tequida & Gutierrez and a former state legislator.

Jaime Molera:
Well, it's groundhog day in Arizona because I know you're going to be shocked. But there's a budget stalemate that's going on right now.

John Loredo:
You're kidding me.

Jaime Molera:
Between the governor and the state legislature. And there was a new wrinkle this last week where there was another -- yet another federal court decision saying that there was a problem with the English language learner programs in the state, which could have literally 100, $150 million if not more impact on what the state would have to spend in order to comply with this federal mandate. So that on top of the existing in the fiscal year '08 budget 1.15 billion deficit that they have to deal with, then in fiscal year '091.8 billion or close to $2 billion deficit. A little $100 million hits every now and then tend to hurt, you know. Given the kind of budget resolve. But one of the things that's interesting I've seen over this last couple of weeks is that legislature has been fighting against the governor. Fighting against what she's trying to do, either debt or more spending or whatever it might be. And one of the things I think the republicans need to start doing and need to position themselves better is what they stand for.

John Loredo:
Sure.

Jaime Molera:
I think they need to stand for -- whether it's fiscal responsibility, standing for making sure that we have budgets that won't cause us to have shortfall deficits, standing for the kind of things that make sense to a lot of Arizonans rather than just being against something.

John Loredo:
And I think that's a big problem. And if you look at the last time there was a very large budget deficit, I think there were only 20 Democrats in the house. And so the republican caucus was a lot bigger. Now there are 27 Democrats and the Republican caucus has shrunk. But they're still holding onto the -- we have to have 31 Republicans on the budget. That makes it very, very difficult to come up with a set of issues and areas to cut from. It makes it very difficult to come up with 31 votes. And because the caucus is simply fractured into different groups. For some folks, bonding is acceptable. For others it's completely off the table. So you have philosophical differences that I think prevent them from making any progress. They simply can't come up with the votes. And we've seen this before. And eventually what will have to happen is that there's going to have to be 31 votes with democrats and republicans combined in order to make anything move.

Jaime Molera: And the republicans need to, like I said, they need to come up with a plan that just doesn't cut a bunch of things. They have to come up with a plan that shows that they're being fiscally responsible in this kind of time.

John Loredo:
Yes. Another issue, up in northern Arizona, Rick Renzi has been indicted by a federal grand jury. That has really kind of thrown another huge wrench into the political season here in Arizona. Now people trying to figure out how exactly we're going to deal with this if Renzi happens to resign.

Jaime Molera:
Well, it's one of those things -- I know the democrats are salivating like Pavlov's dog. They're seeing another seat that they're going to get. But it's still a republican district. And republicans need to try and galvanize around a candidate that can really bring together the conservative base, which is very, very strong. Yavapai County is a very strong republican base. But at the same time there's a lot of strong independence. And up in the northern Arizona, the Coconino areas in Flagstaff there's a lot of independent or moderate republicans. So if they can get a candidate that does well with the base but kind of like John McCain that kind of appeals to the independents and keeps especially the women republican vote, it's going to be very tough for democrats to take that seat away from them.

John Loredo:
Well, I think another big wrench is if Renzi actually resigns then the governor has to call a special election. And that really accelerates, you know -- I think there were a lot of people who figured, well, we've got awhile to raise money and we can come up with a campaign structure.

Jaime Molera:
Fire sale.

John Loredo:
Yeah. Then you've only got a couple of people on the democratic side, Ann Kirkpatrick and Mary Quintilla who even have a campaign structure in place to compete for this thing. I think the edge goes to Kirkpatrick who has half a million bucks in the bank.

Jaime Molera:
And the one race that avoided a fire sale was on the republican side in C.D. 3 with John Shadegg. John Shadegg of course everybody knows decided after an unprecedented move. I've never heard of this before. Where about 100, 140 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives said, John, we don't want you to resign. We want you to stay. You've been a leader, a strong fiscal conservative. And so he decided I think after a lot of thought and talking it over with his family to stay on and run for re-election, stand for re-election. I know he has a challenge from Bob Lord on the democratic side. He's also going to get challenged from Steve May. But again, this is another one where 15 to 20-point advantage. I know the democrats are also salivating over there.

Jaime Molera:
Sure.

John Loredo:
And they've compared it to what happened with J.D. Hayworth. But Shadegg is no J.D. Hayworth.

Jaime Molera:
But I think it's going to be a bad year all the way around for republican candidates, especially congressional. But I think, you know, as for Shadegg, I think he puts himself in a pretty interesting position, having gone on camera and said, well, I don't like being in the minority anymore so I quit. And then having to come back and say, well, now I take that back. I'm going to go ahead and run again.

John Loredo:
But I think there's a difference. The biggest difference is that he was going to resign based on family reasons, based on he just didn't like the culture of Washington.

Jaime Molera:
He didn't like being in the minority. But when you have 140 of your colleagues say that you stand for the kinds of things we want our republican party to stand for, that's going to make a difference. And republicans from the more moderate republicans to even the most conservative republicans like somebody that has values. And the ones that lost were the ones that were deemed to be not really embodying the notion of what republicanism stands for. And surely John Shadegg is one of the best republicans we've got.

John Loredo:
Sure. I think the arguments on the democratic side is, people of the district here, you really should be represented by someone in the majority. And that's why you should vote democrat. On the other side, another issue is Senator John McCain. He has run into a great deal of trouble now. Kind of a road block that I think he's handled pretty well. "New York Times" article raised all kinds of questions about his finances and his personal life. And he seemed to deal with it, from my perspective, pretty effectively in getting around it pretty quickly. I think the problem now is that you've got other people, including Romney now saying that maybe I'll jump in after all. You know, maybe I'll get back into this with my 300 delegates. You've got Huckabee on the other side.

Jaime Molera:
Well, one of the reasons John McCain handled it well is because it's because there really was no there there. The "New York Times" ran a story that even a lot of their colleagues are starting to distance themselves. They're starting to see that when John McCain came out as vehemently as he did, his team came out and put together a very good defense of it. And they were able to say, this is just not a story. It actually I think has helped him. And I think it will help him over the several months. But we'll see how that goes. And only time will tell.

Ted Simons:
Tonight we begin our three-part series -- baby boomers: preparing for an aging workforce. A growing number of economic sectors in the U.S. are facing labor shortages. At the same time, studies by the AARP and other organizations show U.S. worker demographics shifting toward an older workforce. Deborah Russell, AARP Director of Workforce Issues in Washington D.C., spoke with Merry Lucero about why many people are working beyond their traditional retirement age.

Merry Lucero:
Deborah Russell, thanks so much for sitting down with me.

Deborah Russel;:
My pleasure.

Merry Lucero:
How are U.S. worker demographics telling us there are more older workers come into the work force now?

Deborah Russell:
Well, there's 78 million boomers in the work force right now. And boomers are those who were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. So we've got sort of the leading edge boomers who have just turned 62 who will be 65 in 2011. We're going to have a cohort of work force that is going to work longer than ever before in history. So unlike our parents who retired at 65 and basically golfed or were no longer in the labor force, we now have a cohort that are going to be in the labor force much longer. And our research has told us that they plan on working at least into their 70's and perhaps into their 80's, which is huge in terms of thinking about some of the employer's perspective, how much long can I invest in someone who is in their 50's or in their 60's? Well, you may have as much as 10 to 15 years of commitment on the part of that mature worker.

Merry Lucero:
And are there more employers having difficulty recruiting and retaining skilled workers?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. As we talked to employers, certainly the issue of people who have the skills for the jobs is a real huge issue for employers. They also recognize that in -- particularly in some industries that they just can't rely on a younger work force. Even the demographics show that there are just less younger workers coming into the work force. Which means that employers are going to have to look at different labor pools in order to do the work. Health care is a great example where you're talking about less younger people coming into the field of nursing, for instance. Which means that a lot of hospitals are forced to re-strategize their recruitment tactics looking at retaining those nurses that are still working in those hospitals and even reaching out to retired nurses and encouraging them to come back into the work force.

Merry Lucero:
So are we having sort of a concurrent phenomenon going on right now with people staying in the work force longer, people going back to work, and also people starting new careers for the first time?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. All of those things going on. You have an older work force who, based on AARP research, says that they're looking for new and different opportunities. So yeah, they're going to work longer but not necessarily wanting to work that 40 hour work week or not necessarily interested in continuing to supervise large numbers of people. What we hear oftentimes is, I want to have an impact. I want to do something that's really going to have an impact or get at least some sort of legacy. And so we are looking at a demographic that's looking to transition into new opportunities. And even perhaps even into new careers. Which will have a whole new set of implications in terms of how do we -- what kind of training and re-skilling is going to take place in order for people to successfully transfer into new careers.

Merry Lucero:
What are some of the issues that both employers and employees are facing with the multigenerational workplace of today? You've got a lot of new technology, and also a lot of changing attitudes in the workplace environment.

Deborah Russell:
Managing that multigenerational is going to be a challenge for employers. Because people's experiences are different, you know. They've grown up in different eras. And so therefore their experiences are different. However, there really is no empirical data that shows that older workers are incapable of learning new technology. They may have to, you know, it may take them longer to learn the technology. They may have to learn it in a different kind of way, which is important around looking at adult learning principles. It's about learning it, trying it hands-on, learning it, trying it hands-on. Those of us who were boomers did not grow up with computers. It was something we had to learn. But all the data shows that once you've learned how to use the computer, there is a very low margin of error, if you will. And you can see that in things like companies who have like customer service reps who are hotel agents, for instance. They have shown that because all of that is computerized, that there is a much lower margin of error on the part of older workers than it is for younger workers. So, you know, again the challenge is really going to be around having the right kind of learning environment for mature workers to learn things like technology and that sort of thing. But the attitude around learning new technology is definitely very positive.

Merry Lucero:
Now, you mentioned people wanting to find meaning in their work. Wanting to leave a legacy. But with the economy where it is right now, isn't a big part of people continuing to work just simply financial?

Deborah Russell:
Yes. The same report that told us that boomers were going to work past traditional retirement age, we asked what were the top two reasons for why they would remain working. And the top two reasons were because of money and because of health insurance. Boomers are just not prepared financially for retirement. For a variety of reasons. We're having children and marrying later in life. We are care givers now of our aging parents. So there are a lot of different reasons for why we're not prepared financially. But nonetheless we're not. And the belief is that boomers are going to finance their retirement by working. That idea of retiring and no longer working is for the very few. That boomers are going to really reinvent retirement, and it's going to be much more cyclical in that people will be in and out of the work force for a variety of reasons and that we're healthier, we're living longer. The prospect of working longer is much more doable today in an information age than it was years ago when a lot of the work that we did was physical.

Merry Lucero:
How important is it for community-based organizations to get onboard with this whole idea of helping to educate and prepare workers and employers for new older workers coming into the work force?

Deborah Russell:
I think it's critical. Community-based organizations oftentimes are the glue, if you will individuals navigate all kinds of different systems, including the work force. So I think what the role the community-based organizations are going to play is really sort of connecting the needs of employers with the needs of workers, if you will. So if you think of, for instance, community colleges, the role that community colleges are going to play is really the connector between those individuals, mature workers, who are looking to transition or coming into the work force for the first time or whatever that circumstance sort of spitting out, if you will, a very well-trained and a very well-relevant worker.

Merry Lucero:
Deborah Russell, thanks so much for sitting down and talking with me.

Deborah Russell:
My pleasure. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Tomorrow night we continue our series baby boomers, preparing for an aging work force. We look at a program at Scottsdale health care designed to keep and attract boomers. That's Tuesday on Horizon. Also Tuesday the latest Cronkite-Eight poll, Dr. Bruce Merrill pole director along with associate director Tara Blanc will be here to discuss results. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

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