America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985

From Bloomberg:

Twenty percent of those age 65 and up haven’t retired. Many can’t afford to.

April 22, 2019

Just as single-income families began to vanish in the last century, many of America’s elderly are now forgoing retirement for the same reason: They don’t have enough money. Rickety social safety nets, inadequate retirement savings plans and sky high health-care costs are all conspiring to make the concept of leaving the workforce something to be more feared than desired.

For the first time in 57 years, the participation rate in the labor force of retirement-age workers has cracked the 20 percent mark, according to a new report from money manager United Income (PDF).

As of February, the ranks of people age 65 or older who are working or seeking paid work doubled from a low of 10 percent back in early 1985. The biggest spike in employment has gone to college-educated older workers; the share of all employees age 65 or older with at least an undergraduate degree is now 53 percent, up from 25 percent in 1985.

relates to America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985
Source: United Income; Current Population Survey

This rise of college-educated older workers has pushed the demographic’s inflation-adjusted income up to an average of $78,000, 63 percent higher than the $48,000 older folks brought home in 1985. By comparison, American workers below the age of 65 saw their average income rise by only 38 percent over the same period, to an average of $55,000. United Income’s calculations draw on recently released data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

There’s a mismatch between older workers who need the income the most and those who are able to work and working, said Elizabeth Kelly, senior vice president of operations for United Income and a former special assistant to the president at the White House National Economic Council during the Obama administration.

“These are the more educated, wealthier individuals in better health who are continuing to work, but it’s probably their less-educated, working-class counterparts who need to work the most,” Kelly said.

The BLS expects the big wave of aging baby boomers to represent the strongest growth in the labor force participation rate through at least 2024. “By 2024, baby boomers will have reached ages 60 to 78,” a BLS report noted. “And some of them are expected to continue working even after they qualify for Social Security benefits.”

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3 Responses to “America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985”

  1. Karen A Says:

    Being old and poor in country REALLY REALLY sucks!

    I need to keep working professionally until 70. I would not mind that (assuming good health) in the right professional job, but that is highly unlikely with age discrimination…

    My current employer has run into a money crunch, already laid off ~80% of the company and I have my doubts we will still be around by the end of the year… and I turn 64 in a few months.

    I have been looking for few months but no luck so far. My ‘golden years’ are not likely to be a lot of fun!

    It sure would have been nice not to have had to spent all that money over 2 decades ago on transition! (E2000, FFS etc)

    I know you are working in a big box store… but I hope you and Tina are OK financially.

    • Suzan Says:

      Ahh. I got fired from the Big Box. too smart, too ambitious and not corporate enough. i.e. no business degree in management.

      Now Tina and I have a struggling small business selling at different flea markets.

      We have down scaled dramatically and learned the poverty ropes.

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