Chart of the day: Oldest Americans working more

BLOG Elders

The only group of Americans with employment levels recovered from and surpassing those reached before the start of the Great Recession are folks who have passed the normal retirement age.

And more elders, the largest growing sector of the population, are working full-time, meaning few job openings for younger workers.

We suspect part of the reason is that price increases in basic staples, including housing, have surpassed fixed income pensions and Social Security payments:

From the Pew Research Center:

More older Americans – those ages 65 and older – are working than at any time since the turn of the century, and today’s older workers are spending more time on the job than did their peers in previous years, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of employment data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In May, 18.8% of Americans ages 65 and older, or nearly 9 million people, reported being employed full- or part-time, continuing a steady increase that dates to at least 2000 (which is as far back as we took our analysis). In May of that year, just 12.8% of 65-and-older Americans, or about 4 million people, said they were working.

We used the employment-population ratio – the employed percentage of a given group’s total population (including those not actively looking for work) – to measure employment among different age groups. The steady increase in the share of working older Americans contrasts with the adult population as a whole, whose employment-population ratio fell sharply during the Great Recession and has yet to recover to pre-slump levels. In May 2000, according to the BLS’ seasonally unadjusted data, 64.4% of all adults had jobs, a figure that had drifted down to 62.5% by May 2008 as the recession took hold. The ratio bottomed out at 57.6% in January 2011, and as of last month stood at 59.9%.


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