November 21, 2017

Small-Business Guide: Figuring Out What Time Is the Right Time to Start Hiring

First, he needs more people in the warmer months. He also has to consider where his jobs are and how long it will take his workers to drive from one job to another. Some jobs take longer than others, because vacuuming and scrubbing take more time than chemical treatments. Plus, he said, “Everyone wants their residential pool service on Friday.”

Of course, like most business owners, Mr. Johnson always wants to avoid having too many people and not enough work.

“Determining when and how many employees to hire is a bit tricky for our business as the demand for services varies based on account growth, seasonality, geography of homeowner addresses and customer requests,” said Mr. Johnson, who started the company four years ago.

Many small-business owners remain skittish about hiring. The National Federation of Independent Business reported that nearly 80 percent of small, private companies made no hiring changes in July and 12 percent let workers go.

Especially after the recession, many owners have been reluctant to spend the money to hire workers, especially if there’s a chance demand will recede and the workers will have to be laid off. The on-again, off-again recovery hasn’t helped. And with small businesses representing 49.2 percent of private sector employment, according to the Small Business Administration, this reluctance has inevitably had an impact on unemployment rates.

Some owners have turned to paying overtime, which makes it easier to scale back if demand slips. The downside is that it can be expensive and it can lead to an overworked staff.

For example, the work force at Narragansett Creamery in Providence, R.I., has grown slowly even as more customers are drawn to the company’s homemade yogurt and cheeses, said Mark Federico, the owner. Started in 2007, the company has grown to a staff of 30.

“We found that if we worked too many hours for too long a period of time, people get burned out,” Mr. Federico said. “People need days off. It’s not scientific, and we’re not right all the time.”

Based on the experiences of owners like Mr. Johnson and Mr. Federico, this small-business guide looks how owners determine when it’s time to hire.

HOURS WORKED Mr. Johnson said he ran his employment numbers weekly, as clients were added and lost, to ensure he had enough people. He uses a spreadsheet to help him decide when the company can support the wages of new employees.

He keeps careful count of the number of pools the company cleans and the hours required for each job. He separates residential jobs, which typically require 30 minutes of time, from those at commercial pools, which can take two hours.

To calculate the required number of employees, Mr. Johnson estimates the number of hours required to clean all client pools and divides that by a standard 40-hour workweek. When the result is greater than the number of employees on staff, he makes a new hire.

THE PAYROLL PERCENTAGE Earlier this year, when there was a surge in demand for swimming lessons at SwimLabs, in Highlands Ranch, Colo., Michael Mann was taken by surprise. Suddenly, the 15 full-time employees he keeps during the off-season — as opposed to 25 or more during spring and summer — were not enough.

Opened in 2006, SwimLabs offers one-on-one lessons to children and adults. All students are videotaped and analyzed as they take their strokes in small pools equipped with water jets.

The company saw the same surge in business after the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“The Olympics always elevates the sport,” said Mr. Mann, who holds several masters swimming records. His business got an extra boost because the four-time gold medalist Missy Franklin lived nearby.

To decide how many instructors he needed to hire, Mr. Mann looked at monthly gross earnings and calculated that the payroll should consume a maximum of 25 percent of his operating costs. If he generates an additional $10,000 a month in revenue, he knows he can afford another instructor who is paid $2,500 a month. As a result, Mr. Mann started hunting for two more part-time instructors.

CALL VOLUME Growth can be deceptive. Sometimes, efficiencies may keep three times as many customers from meaning three times as much work. That is a lesson learned by Hudl, a company in Lincoln, Neb., that builds video analysis tools for coaches in 20 different sports, allowing them to break down plays and share them with their players.

The company’s big market is high school football. In the 2011 season, its six-person service team went from working with 2,000 teams to working with more than 6,600. “We were staying up all night” to manage problems like software bugs, said Bryant Bone, who heads the support team. Clearly, Hudl needed help.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/business/smallbusiness/figuring-out-when-its-time-to-add-an-employee.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Big Income Losses for Those Near Retirement

7:24 p.m. | Updated with additional details.

CATHERINE RAMPELL

CATHERINE RAMPELL

Dollars to doughnuts.

Americans nearing retirement age have suffered disproportionately after the financial crisis: along with the declining value of their homes, which were intended to cushion their final years, their incomes have fallen sharply.

The typical household income for people age 55 to 64 years old is almost 10 percent less in today’s dollars than it was when the recovery officially began three years ago, according to a new report from Sentier Research, a data analysis company that specializes in demographic and income data.

Across the country, in almost every demographic, Americans earn less today than they did in June 2009, when the recovery technically started. As of June, the median household income for all Americans was $50,964, or 4.8 percent lower than its level three years earlier, when the inflation-adjusted median income was $53,508.

The decline looks even worse when comparing today’s incomes to those when the recession began in December 2007. Then, the median household income was $54,916, meaning that incomes have fallen 7.2 percent since the economy last peaked.

Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

Income drops vary significantly by age, though. Households led by people between the ages of 55 and 64 have taken the biggest hit; their household incomes have fallen to $55,748 from $61,716 over the last three years, a decline of 9.7 percent.

Sustained unemployment among older workers may be at least partly to blame for this decline. Unemployment rates for that age group are relatively low, but once older workers lose their jobs, they have an unusually hard time finding re-employment. And even when they do find new work, they usually take a pay cut.

“I was laid off in ’08, and I never really managed to get back into the job market,” said Jan Thomas, 62, who lives in Sarasota, Fla. She decided to apply for Social Security early, even though that means her benefits are lower than they would be if she had waited until 66. “I’ve pretty much gone through my savings at this point. You know, taking money out of one account, then the other. Then it all just kind of went poof.”

Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

Younger Americans have also felt income declines in the three years since the recovery began. The inflation-adjusted median household income for those 25 to 34 fell 8.9 percent, while that for people under age 25 fell 6.1 percent.

Incomes for the oldest Americans, on the other hand, have risen steadily since the recovery began. Among those 65 to 74, the inflation-adjusted median household income rose 6.5 percent (to $42,113 from $39,548), and among those age 75 and older, the increase was 2.8 percent (to $26,991 from $26,244).

It’s not clear why incomes rose for older people when as they fell for everyone else.

This may be because older Americans are working longer, taking in more income at more advanced ages. Perhaps they are working longer partly to compensate for the decline in the value of their homes. Rising employment rates among older people predate the housing bust, however.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The share of people over 65 who have jobs has been rising since the early 1990s; in 2011, 16.7 of people over 65 worked, compared with 11.1 percent two decades earlier.

The chart below — which is based on a different Census Bureau survey that goes through 2010 only, unfortunately — shows that almost all age groups have actually seen their income rise over most of the last 50 years, although incomes for non-seniors have been much more volatile. (Remember, though, that during recessions older people have at least some steady income from Social Security.)

Source: United States Bureau of the Census March Current Population Survey annual supplement.Source: United States Bureau of the Census March Current Population Survey annual supplement.

Income losses since the recovery began also varied depending on educational attainment, Sentier Research found.

People with the least education and people with the most education had smaller income losses, supporting the idea that the job market in the United States is “hollowing out,” as the M.I.T. economist David Autor has proposed, meaning that high-skilled and low-skilled jobs are growing while midskilled jobs are thinning out.

The median household income of high school dropouts has fallen 5.3 percent (to $24,495 from $25,860), while that for college graduates has fallen 5.9 percent (to $83,378 from $88,570).

Source: United States Bureau of the Census March Current Population Survey annual supplement.Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, incomes for those with a midlevel education — a high school diploma, some college but no degree, or an associate’s degree — slid much further.

As you can see in the chart above, the biggest percentage decline was for people who took some college courses but never got a degree. Their median income has fallen 9.3 percent over the course of the recovery so far, to $46,200 from $50,948. That must especially sting, given that these income losses are probably accompanied by student loan debt.

Black Americans appear to have suffered the most, according to the Sentier report.

Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.Sources: Sentier Research estimated annual household income derived from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

The real median annual household income for blacks fell 11.1 percent from June 2009 to June 2012, landing at $32,498 from $36,567. That compares with 5.2 percent for whites, 3.6 percent for other race combinations (including Asians) and 4.1 percent for Hispanics — all of whom started with higher incomes than blacks.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/big-income-losses-for-those-near-retirement/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits Blog: Despite Economic Slump, Europe Gets More Tech Start-Ups

Google's European HeadquartersPeter Muhly/Agence France-Presse —Getty Images Ireland’s tax rates have attracted tech companies like Google.

While Europe as a whole continues to suffer major economic troubles with slow fiscal growth and abnormally high unemployment rates, one industry continues to grow steadily: tech.

This is apparent at the annual LeWeb conference, a gathering of more than 3,500 — up from 2,800 last year — entrepreneurs, programmers and journalists gathering in Paris this week to meet with hundreds European start-ups, and a few American ones, too.

It’s also illustrated throughout Europe with the dozens of start-ups that are successfully becoming part of the wider cultural fabric. For example, Angry Birds, Spotify, SoundCloud, Last.fm and Cut the Rope are all incredibly successful start-ups that began in Europe and are dominating in the United States.

Yet until recently, there were very few technology products that made their way across the pond to the United States. Most innovations only traveled in the opposite direction.

“There has been a dramatic shift in the last few years with European entrepreneurs who are no longer trying to be copycats of American tech, which was pretty sad. Europeans are now really innovating on their own.” said Loïc Le Meur, a co-founder of the LeWeb conference, during a phone interview from Paris. For several years, European start-ups tried to emulate Silicon Valley, he said, creating products similar to Twitter, Facebook and the whatever was the hot new tech theme of the year in the United States.

Innovation is happening all across Europe. Dublin, for example, has seen the growth of its own mini-Silicon Valley, with Google and Facebook opening up European headquarters there. This is partly driven by the country’s low corporate tax rates.

“It’s completely countercyclical to what’s happening with the rest of the European economy. Technology here is completely uncorrelated and is growing rapidly,” Mr. Le Meur said. “Last year, for example, we had 300 start-up submissions at LeWeb; this year it’s already up to 600,” he said, referring to the new European tech companies that will make presentations at the show this week.

Venture investments have also been on the rise in recent years. And there is incentive for start-ups to begin in Europe. For example, some European countries, including Ireland and Germany, impose fewer restrictions on new companies than the United States does, as the Economix blog reported earlier this year.

Venture Capital as a percentage of GDPSource: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

European technology and economic experts also note that technology innovation is not centralized in one European country.

Joe Haslam, a professor of entrepreneurship at IE Business School in Madrid, describes the European growth of technology start-ups as a “cluster rather than a hub.”

“Science has eliminated distance. It is now possible to be plugged into what is happening in the Valley without actually being there,” he wrote in an e-mail interview. “The success stories out of France, Spain or the Nordic countries are the result of the leadership of exceptional individuals rather than something nurtured by an ecosystem.”

Although Mr. Haslam sees exciting new European entrepreneurship in recent years, he still believes there is a long way to go to.

“I very much regret how Europe has lost the clear lead she had in mobile. I expected that we would be much further along the way in things like cashless payments and location awareness,” he wrote. “Maybe it’s the carriers’ fault, not the start-ups. But billion-dollar companies should have come out of that.”

Mr. Haslam also said that he hopes entrepreneurs stop looking for fame as their goal, but should look for other affirmations. He pointed to Israel, where the ultimate goal of start-ups is to be on the Nasdaq exchange.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/as-europes-economy-slumps-a-rise-in-successful-tech-start-ups/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Common Sense: A Voice Suggests Door-Busters Can Wait a Day

Anthony Hardwick never thought of himself as an activist or even much of an organizer. He grew up in Kansas City, Mo., graduated from Park University in Missouri in 2009, and looked for a job by scouring the Internet for cities with low unemployment rates. He settled on Omaha, where he found two — as a shopping cart attendant at Target and a printing supervisor for OfficeMax. There he met his fiancée, Denise Holling.

“Basically, I just wanted to pursue the American Dream,” Mr. Hardwick told me this week, as the bearded, burly 29-year-old emerged as the unlikely hero of a nationwide movement to roll back the start of the holiday shopping season to the day after Thanksgiving.

Late last month, Mr. Hardwick’s supervisor at Target told him he would be needed at 11 p.m. Thanksgiving night in order for Target to open its doors at midnight for Black Friday, which the discount retailer was doing for the first time this year.

“I’d have to be at Target from 11 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., then I’d have 30 minutes to scurry down to OfficeMax, where I was starting at 5 a.m.,” he said. Mr. Hardwick makes $8.50 an hour at Target, and between his two jobs earns about $25,000 a year. “I used to be able to pull 24-hour shifts,” he said. “I’d drink Red Bull. But now I’m 29, and I’m starting to feel it. I’d have to nap.”

This didn’t sit well with Mr. Hardwick, who figured he’d be sleeping while his fiancée and future in-laws gathered for the traditional turkey dinner. Although a Target spokeswoman told me the company did its best to accommodate employees who wanted the day off, this often isn’t possible, and Mr. Hardwick said he wasn’t given the option. Mr. Hardwick turned to the Internet and discovered the Web site Change.org, best known for a recent online petition to get banks to roll back debit card fees.

“A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day,” he posted on Nov. 3. “A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation — all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night’s rest on Thanksgiving!” He asked the Web site’s visitors to join him in calling for Target retail stores to restore the 5 a.m. opening time on Black Friday.

But a “full holiday with family” has become increasingly elusive as competition from 24/7, 365-days-a-year Internet shopping has caused retailers to throw open their doors on a day once sacrosanct “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” as Abraham Lincoln put it when he established the national holiday in 1863.

Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November (from the last Thursday) in an overt attempt to lengthen the holiday shopping season and bolster retail sales during the Depression. And the holiday’s demise as a no-shopping interlude is the culmination of a steady retreat from pervasive blue laws that once banned shopping not only on Thanksgiving and other major holidays but also on Sundays. Today Massachusetts and Rhode Island are the last states to restrict shopping on Thanksgiving, and Paramus, N.J., the site of several major malls, may be unique in banning shopping on Thanksgiving and Sundays.

“The blue laws began in Massachusetts with the Pilgrims, so I guess it’s fitting that we still have them,” Jon B. Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said. “Christmas is sacrosanct. But there’s been a bill proposed to permit shopping on Thanksgiving. It hasn’t moved. We endorse it every year, but do I have members beating down my door to push this? No.”

Among national retailers, Target is hardly the worst offender. Although some Target stores are open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving before reopening at midnight, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, has been open all day on Thanksgiving for years, and this year moved up its Black Friday door-buster specials to 10 p.m. Thursday. K-Mart and many Gap and Old Navy stores are also open all day, and a wave of stores, including Macy’s and Best Buy, opened this year at midnight on Friday with special holiday promotions. Some retailers are now talking about “Black Thanksgiving.”

 “For many people Black Friday shopping is now as much a part of the holiday tradition as the turkey,” the Target spokeswoman said. “Black Friday has an exciting, euphoric feeling. A lot of our team members get very excited. Months of hard work have gone into preparing for this.” She said Target moved up its store openings to midnight only after much deliberation, and the move had been “overwhelmingly popular” with both customers and employees.

Mr. Hardwick said he was aware of all this, and had modest expectations for his petition. “I promoted it on Facebook and figured I’d sign up some friends and family,” he said. “At first it just sat there.” But gradually comments piled up on the Change.org Web site.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=3947af7d1019955a945d4a7531fc1789

Economix Blog: College Is Worth It

We get a lot of questions (complaints, really) about whether college is worth the money, given how much it costs. If our previous reporting on the lower unemployment rates for college grads hasn’t convinced you, maybe this chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland will:

DESCRIPTIONSource: Dionissi Aliprantis, Timothy Dunne and Kyle Fee, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Not only do college grads earn significantly more than people whose highest educational attainment is a high school diploma, but that wage premium has been steadily increasing, to almost twice as much in 2010.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6f61b2ec13c3dbef0da650bbc0a9e911

Economic Scene: Negotiating Election Headwinds

Maybe it’s not the economy, stupid.

White House officials have begun to entertain the idea that they can run for re-election without being able to point to a strengthening economy. For one thing, they may not have a choice. For another, they believe that recent Republican budget proposals have given President Obama an opportunity to draw contrasts in which he is more in line with most voters.

The clearest statement of this idea has come from David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s top political adviser. “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of G.D.P. or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” Mr. Plouffe said at a recent Bloomberg Breakfast here. “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate. They’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’ ”

Not surprisingly, Republicans seized on the comment to say the White House was out of touch. They are preparing to follow the path of not only Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign, but also — in slogans, if not policies — Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, which coined “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Mr. Obama’s advisers, meanwhile, are looking for lessons from re-election bids that overcame a first-term rise in unemployment, like those of George W. Bush, Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower, Republicans all. That’s a turnabout from the Obama team’s initial plan to base its re-election campaign on the economy’s progress since 2008.

The White House approach certainly does come with caveats. Mr. Obama and his aides are well aware that the economy is the biggest threat to his re-election. Their 2012 campaign will be filled with talk of the economic crisis the administration inherited. And administration officials say they will continue to push for steps to put people back to work, like road construction, that Congressional Republicans have blocked.

But you can already see how the White House strategy is affecting the fights that it chooses to have and, by extension, the economic and political risks it takes.

In the debt ceiling talks, Mr. Obama has not made new stimulus his top priority. He has instead pushed for a grand bargain that would sharply reduce the deficit. His calculation seems to be that any stimulus he could win from Republicans would have only a minor effect on job growth — and come with a political cost.

By now, many Americans are at best skeptical of stimulus. If Mr. Obama argued for more temporary tax cuts and spending, he might be able to increase popular support for such measures and make them a bigger part of a debt ceiling deal. (For the deficit to fall, the steps would obviously have to be offset by larger spending cuts or tax increases.) Yet by pushing for new stimulus, he would also tie himself ever closer to the troubled economy and the unpopular policies to help it.

His attempt at a big deficit-reduction package — which seemed to come back from the dead on Tuesday — allows him to project a different image. He takes on the moderate role of fiscal conservative, looking to cut spending and increase taxes on the affluent. The refusal of many Republicans to consider such a package, Mr. Obama noted last week, puts them to the right of most Republican voters, polls show. House Republicans have opposed any tax increase and have instead proposed an overhaul of Medicare.

So far, many political observers believe Mr. Obama has played his hand well. Amy Walter, political director of ABC News, wrote this week that the president’s approval rating — 48 percent, hardly stellar — was still “remarkably high given the level of economic pessimism.”

Yet the White House strategy of not trying absolutely everything in its power to lift economic growth has drawbacks, politically and economically.

The stimulus of the last three and a half years has mostly worked. The best six months of economic growth, in late 2009, came on the heels of the maximum effort from the Federal Reserve, Congress and the White House. Late last year, the Obama administration persuaded Republicans to agree to a smaller stimulus package, which extended jobless benefits and temporarily cut the payroll tax for households, as part of the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts.

Still, the economy continues to struggle. That’s the normal pattern after a giant debt bubble pops. A full recovery takes years and years. Consumers and businesses remain reluctant to spend. The less aggressive the government is in filling the void, the weaker the recovery tends to be.

White House officials are no doubt correct that the most ambitious ideas — say, a huge new federal program to rebuild roads, bridges and other infrastructure — have no political chance. They are also correct that economic policy would have been more aggressive if they had been able to dictate legislation. And those of us outside the debt ceiling negotiating room cannot fully know what is and isn’t possible.

But there do seem to be options within the realm of plausibility, and it is not too late to pursue them. The negotiation over the debt ceiling is, after all, a negotiation.

One option would be an immediate extension of the payroll tax cut, which is set to expire on Jan. 1, to give consumers and businesses more confidence. By waiting until the end of the year to announce an extension, Washington would end up paying all of the budgetary cost without getting the full economic benefit.

Perhaps the most intriguing idea is a 2010 proposal from Mr. Obama to give a $5,000 tax credit for each net new worker that a business hires. The credit aims at the economy’s main problem — a lack of jobs — and its annual cost is a mere $35 billion, easily offset by longer-term cuts to domestic programs or the military. Yes, it died in Congress last year. But given the ongoing slump, does abandoning the idea make sense?

Four years after the mortgage-bond market first quivered, the share of Americans with jobs has again fallen to its recent nadir. Yet Washington is occupied with another crisis, one that’s entirely self-imposed. The bond market would be ecstatic if the federal government simply lifted its debt ceiling, as it always has before. Congress can make this problem go away whenever it wants.

The jobs crisis is different. Solving it will take a whole lot of work. Right now, there are not many people trying to do that work.

E-mail: leonhardt@nytimes.com; twitter.com/DLeonhardt

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fea1e6f7e2fb61711dd343fff4fea2a8

In Shift, Ads Try to Entice Over-55 Set

Marketers like Kellogg’s, Skechers and 5-Hour Energy drink are broadening their focus to those 55 and up, who were largely ignored in most of their media plans until recently. During next week’s upfront announcements, the annual preview of the fall television season, network executives are planning to introduce shows created to have broad appeal, including to older viewers, and the ad dollars they represent.

This amounts to a reversal in thinking that took hold during the 1960s, when advertisers first started aiming for baby boomers, the largest segment of the United States population. But the reasons for the shift are not just demographic, they are economic.

As a result of the recent recession, unemployment rates for younger age groups have been far higher than those for older Americans. The most recent unemployment rate for those 20 to 24 years old is 14.2 percent; for those 25 to 34, it is 9.4 percent. The rate for people aged 55 to 64 is only 6.2 percent.

Financially, the disparity is similar. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those people aged 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 had the highest median weekly earnings of any age segment in the United States: $844 and $860, respectively. Meanwhile, those 20 to 24 had weekly earnings of only $454. Those who are 25 to 34 earned $682.

Stephanie Pappas, a senior planner for BBDO NY, said there was now good reason for ad clients to seek the mature audience.

“In some ways, they are the ideal consumer. They have money, they consume loads of media, and they remain optimistic,” she said.

The bimonthly magazine for AARP has been pushing to attract new advertisers, according to Patricia Lippe Davis, the vice president for marketing for AARP media. Recently, products previously thought of as youthful — brands like Jeep and Shape-ups by Skechers — have advertised in AARP.

“The grandkids say I’m ‘really cool now’ but what they don’t know is I always was,” reads the text of the Jeep ad.

“We’ve seen an increase in advertisers targeting this booming demographic, many of whom are not the types of advertisers you’d expect to see in our media properties,” Ms. Davis wrote in an e-mail.

For decades, television has been the most determined proselytizer on behalf of the premium value of reaching consumers aged 18 to 49. In the 1960s, ABC found itself hopelessly uncompetitive with CBS and NBC in what was then the standard ratings measurement, total households. So the network adopted a strategy to appeal to younger viewers with programs like “Batman,” “Shindig,” and “Mod Squad.”

The idea caught on, and even as the boomer generation grew older, advertisers continued to court younger viewers — first on the theory that they had not yet established brand loyalty, then because they were harder to reach than mature viewers who watched far more television.

Since then, all advertising sales have been based on two main groups, those people aged 18 to 49, and those 25 to 54. Once viewers reached 55, they were considered all but valueless.

In the last decade, NBC has been a central force in pushing that view, as the home of youth-oriented hits like “Friends” and “The Office.” But Alan Wurtzel, the president of research for NBC Universal, initiated a study last year into a group he labeled “alpha boomers,” the leading edge of the baby boom generation, which is now turning 65.

For companies to avoid shifting advertising and marketing attention toward older Americans is “a big mistake,” he said. “You risk not only growth, but at some point you risk your brand.”

Mr. Wurtzel said that as NBC put together its lineup of potential new series for fall, he made the programmers in the company aware of the attractiveness of the 55-plus audience. He described it as “one of the things we look at when we look at pilots.”

The network has already ordered a new series, “Playboy,” set in the 1960s, and this week renewed the drama “Harry’s Law,” which stars Kathy Bates, who is 62.

Mature consumers also seem to be spending on categories not traditionally associated with older people. NBC’s study of those people 55 to 64 showed that they spent more than the average consumer on categories like home improvement, large appliances, casual dining and cosmetics.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=3cfebf814d3de45c13db35f71e156484