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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Antigua, Guatemala)
For Immediate Release                                     March 11, 1999




One of our Nation's most valuable but least appreciated assets is its workers aged 55 and older. Older Americans bring to the workplace sound judgment, broad knowledge and experience, proven problem-solving abilities, and a strong work ethic. Despite their often impressive qualifications, however, older men and women who attempt to change jobs or seek new careers frequently encounter difficulties. Some employers mistakenly fear that older workers lack the skills and flexibility to learn new technologies and procedures; others think that they no longer have the energy and motivation to compete in today's fast-paced and stressful work environment; still others are unwilling to pay older workers the salaries they deserve and prefer instead to hire younger, less experienced employees at lower rates. Such employers are short-sighted.

Americans are living longer, healthier, more active lives. In the next century, as our economy continues to expand and the demand for skilled workers continues to grow, older citizens will become an increasingly vital resource. If our Nation is to thrive in the 21st century, we must encourage businesses to recognize the rich potential of older workers, to make the most of their knowledge, skills, and experience, and to retain qualified older employees in the workforce.

We must also remain vigilant in protecting the rights and well-being of older Americans. Laws such as the Age Discrimination Act, the Older Americans Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protect older workers from age bias and discrimination and help assure their fair treatment in the workplace. In addition, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services, through such efforts as the Senior Community Service Employment Program and the programs of the Administration on Aging, assist older workers who give their time and energy to contribute to our Nation's economy.

As we observe this special week, let us remember with appreciation the many invaluable contributions older workers make to our country's progress and prosperity, and let us resolve to give older Americans an equal opportunity to participate in the workplace.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 14 through March 20, 1999, as National Older Workers Employment Week. I urge employers across the Nation to recognize the energy and ability of older workers, and I encourage public officials responsible for job placement, training, and related services to intensify their efforts throughout the year to help older workers find suitable jobs and training.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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