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This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on October 27, 1999. All rights reserved
Older Workers to the Fore
Hire an older person and you get a better worker,
says Wendy Packard, program manager for the National Council
on the Aging in New Jersey. Under Title V of the Older Americans Act,
your for-profit company may also be able to collect federal or state
tax credits, and your non-profit agency may be able to get an older
worker’s salary subsidized.
Packard’s community-based program at 4 North Broad Street in Trenton
is one of several agencies that, in this tight labor market, can be
tapped by employers. Older people can also come here to find jobs.
Sponsored by the workforce development division of the National Council
on the Aging, NCOA is funded by corporate memberships, grants, and
monies from the state labor department. Packard went to Ramapo College
and has certification in human resources and 20 years experience in
the field. Call 609-989-7977 or E-mail: email@example.com.
Candidates for an NCOA job must be between 55 and 62 years old and
should have an income that is no more than 125 percent of poverty
guidelines. Those who have been making good money — but have lost
their job — may qualify, because unemployment and welfare are
not counted as income. In Mercer County, for a family of one, that
maximum amount is $10,300, not including interest under $3,000.
If the would-be workers meet these income guidelines, Packard can
put them on a payroll, with subsidized employment, until they can
find a regular job. For instance, a chemist who lost his job and an
apartment manager who had a heart attack and couldn’t work at his
regular job were both given stop-gap work with NCOA to be job developers,
finding jobs for other senior citizens.
Packard hires such program monitors to help recruit, interview, and
assess potential participants. "We provide a service to the employers
by prescreening people, assessing their interest and their background,
and we support the candidates as they work in their new jobs,"
says Packard. "Often these candidates have not had an opportunity
to work to their potential."
The community service jobs for nonprofits and government agencies
pay minimum wage on a part-time temporary basis, 20 hours a week.
In return for the "free workers" the nonprofits and agencies
provide supervision and training.
Jobs pay an average hourly rate of $8.31, and the average annual salary
is $11,872. The average worker is 63, has 11 years of education, and
works 26.4 hours per week. Half of the jobs offered are for nonprofits.
One person learned medical technology and was able to be a clerk for
children’s oncology unit. NCOA is authorized to hire up to 395 workers
in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Union, and Mercer counties.
Among the agencies getting the same kind of funding from the Older
Americans Act is Workforce 55+. Myra V. Terrell is the project
director for this state agency at 12B Quakerbridge Plaza, 609-588-3394;
fax, 609-588-3382. It is authorized to provide 335 jobs statewide.
A third program for mature workers, Green Thumb Inc., covers nearly
all of New Jersey and is authorized to hire up to 581 workers who
earn an average hourly wage of $7.68. "We place people mostly
into little companies looking for reliable workers with a good work
ethic," says Sydelle Norris, director (609-890-2121, http://www.greenthumb.org).
Those whose backgrounds are lacking may go into minimum wage community
service jobs to get experience, but 41 percent of Green Thumb’s clients
were able to move to private sector jobs.
Norris suggests that employers check first with Green Thumb’s non-profit
fee-based staffing service, Experience Works "because they may
have the people with better backgrounds." Experience Works (609-689-0298)
focuses on workers 40 years and over, but its clients can be of any
age and they do not have to meet maximum income guidelines. Employers
pay the fee and any excess revenues get rolled back into regular Title
V activities. The computer lab offers self-paced individualized instruction.
Experience Works is a One Stop Career Center site sponsored by Mercer
County Workforce Investment Board.
NCOA’s Packard says that her agency, in addition to providing employment,
is also supposed to be a conduit to the community to distribute information,
such as bulletins on medications and depression. "NCOA is perhaps
more participant-centered than Green Thumb. We don’t have a lot of
permanent staff; all our staff are participants in the program."
She has trained 25 program monitors, 16 who work in the field.
Other than reminding a for-profit employer that tax credits might
be available, none of these three agencies will help a company collect
the tax credits. (See article below on Equico LLC).
Employers should consider hiring older workers, says Packard, for
the following reasons:
to try new things.
of the ’40s and ’50s . Says Packard: "That includes good penmanship."
If you hire entry level workers and are not applying
for tax credits because it is just plain too much trouble, here is
a new kind of business that stands ready to help.
"We help our clients find the qualified people so they can take
advantage of tax credits and develop relationships with state agencies,"
says Ken Brice, president of Equico LLC at Princeton Commerce
Center at 29 Emmons Drive (609-720-1200, http://www.equicollc.com).
Brice says that, on average, five percent of new hires will qualify
for $1,000 in credits.
"A lot of people find it is just too cumbersome to take the tax
credits and don’t truly understand the financial impact. Depending
on the employees you hire and the programs that they qualify for,
you can earn $8,900 in tax credits per person per year," says
Among the tax credit opportunities that Equico works with are federal
and state welfare-to-work programs, work opportunity tax credits (WOTC),
empowerment zones, and enterprise communities. Clients give Equico
a power of attorney to represent them. Equico’s proprietary software
processes the paperwork electronically and turns out appropriate reports.
Brice went to the University of Miami, Class of 1973, and spent 25
years in the service industry, including 15 at ADP. He and six other
staff members opened an office at Emmons Drive on September 23 and,
so far, have seven clients, including some national ones. "We
contact the agencies that have employees who are welfare-eligible
or tax credit-eligible. We give them the job specifications, and the
agencies send applicants to the workplace," says Brice. Verifying
and calculating the credits is a tedious process, and that’s why companies
are happy to outsource this work.
"Each program calculates tax credits based on the amount of wages,"
says Brice. If a company hires an employee who qualifies for three
different programs, the payroll costs for that person might drop by
70 percent, up to $8,900 in tax credits for the first year. Of that,
Equico keeps 15 to 20 percent.
"We find the people, put them in place, track the earnings, calculate
the credits, and give the credits to our clients," says Brice.
"We bill them only if we find tax credits, and our clients take
the credits off their tax payments at the end of the quarter."
Among the programs Equico offers are those for long-term welfare recipients
(who have been on welfare for six months or more), households on
food stamps, veterans, disadvantaged families, and youth needing summer
Particularly ready for this type of service are clients who can use
entry-level workers, such as retail stores, manufacturers, and the
hospitality industry. One of Equico’s clients has a contract to assemble
products, such as barbecues and bicycles, in stores in 50 states.
Equico’s Ocean Township-based competitor, Walton Management Services,
has a website (http://www.tax-credits.com) with a daunting amount
of technical tax information. In comparison, Equico’s website, (http://www.etaxcredits.com)
is reassuringly plain. In fact, users of Equico’s website are told
they need to know nothing about tax credits. They merely need to get
their new hires to fill out certain forms and Equico does the rest.
Word of mouth referrals are keeping Brice busy. "Our business
plan is really open ended, and we think we have a tremendous product.
We truly expect to `blow the doors out,’" says Brice, who is not
worried about the government cutting these handy tax credits: "It
costs $30,000 to keep someone on welfare, and at the most it will
cost the government $8,000 in tax credits" to get them off welfare.
move lede = Equico LLC, 29 Emmons Drive, Suite G 50, Princeton
08540. Ken Brice, president. www.etaxcredits.com
A website that explains these tax credits: http://www.doletea.gov/employer/wotc.htm
Corrections or additions?
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— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.