I am writing in response to the recent Portland Press Herald editorial “Our View: Low unemployment is not always good news.” The editorial raises important concerns regarding employment rates, opportunities for small businesses and the decline in the participation rate of Maine’s labor force.

While one can acknowledge existing challenges in the nation’s oldest state, there are considerable opportunities in Maine for workers of all ages, including older adults. The data shows that workers age 50-plus are a critical component of a strong workforce and the economy. Their levels of engagement, stability, productivity and experience are well documented. Smart organizations know that building a multigenerational workforce yields a stronger pipeline of talent, protects business continuity and taps into new resources to address labor shortages.

Certain business policies that can make a significant difference could be easy for employers to implement. For example, an employer might offer flexible work hours or support a telework schedule.

Today, some companies even allow for a certain number of paid caregiver days, particularly for those employees caring for loved ones with high care needs due to dementia or serious illness. A recent collaboration between AARP and ReACT, a coalition of businesses dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by employee caregivers, resulted in a study that can help stimulate these and other best practices.

AARP’s Employer Pledge Program is designed to help employers solve their current or future staffing challenges by connecting them to experienced job seekers. The program is a nationwide group of employers who stand with AARP in affirming the value of experienced workers and are committed to developing diverse, high-performing organizations by leveraging workers of all ages. Employers can visit www.aarp.org/EmployerPledge for information.

Now and for the future, we must work together to build a strong, multigenerational workforce in Maine.

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