More older workers are in labor force

Older workers — those at least 55 — are staying in the labor force longer, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Forty percent of older workers were in the labor force in 2010 — a steady increase from 1993, when it was 30 percent, EBRI said.

A higher percentage of men are in the labor force — 46.4 percent — than women — 36.4 percent. The rate for women is a record, while the male rate hit its peak in 1975, when 49.4 percent were in the work force, EBRI said. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, the male rate gradually declined to below 40 percent, before it began steadily rising again.

The upward trend in older workers is likely to continue because of their need for access to employment-based health insurance, EBRI said.

Also, older workers need more earning years to accumulate assets in their 401(k) plans, EBRI said.

If you’re an older worker, are you planning to stay longer than you thought you would? Why?

To others in the workplace, do you think this is preventing your advancement? Or do you see older workers being treated unfairly or forced out the door?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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54 comments Add your comment


August 4th, 2011
7:40 am

As one of these “Older Workers” and a Viet Nam Vet…I was just laid off, with no severance, because of Corp. Restructuring. For me to continue my COBRA Health Ins. I’ll have to fork out $998.00/ mo. Where am I supposed to come up with this? My IRA has already been decimated to the point that I may lose my house! Thanks Gov’t.


August 4th, 2011
7:45 am

Employment based health insurance is definitely keeping older workers on the job longer than they would like to stay. I left the workforce at age 51 after working 26 years with my employer. I was able to do that in large part because I was covered by my husband’s health insurance. My employer did not offer health benefits or access to insurance to retired employees. I can name several “older workers” who would take early retirement if they had access to affordable and stable insurance plans. Unfortunately, some young people today are being denied opportunities to start careers because older workers are finding it necessary to stay on the job. A sad situation for all, and for our society as a whole.


August 4th, 2011
7:48 am

Don, you are a Great American! I’ve been out of work for two years and trying to reinvent myself with no dollars. So many people have had to tap into money they never thought they would need to until they retire. I feel your pain. POTUS and the Fed are out of ammo at this point.

Max Sizemore

August 4th, 2011
7:51 am

Don, your anger is misplaced, like so many misinformed Americans. If the free market (the foe of government) is your friend, then go out and find another job. That is what you would tell somebody else in your position, right? It was the free market, remember, that decreed you were no longer necessary.

D T Ross

August 4th, 2011
7:55 am

I’m finding that I need to continue working because of the hit that my 401K has taken in the past three years. I’ve looked at retirement calculators and the economey has added on to the years I need to work. The healthcare is not an issue but the money is, it has added on three years as of today. Shoting to stay home at age 68.

D T Ross

August 4th, 2011
7:57 am

Don, as a VN Vet go to the Dept of Veterans Affairs.


August 4th, 2011
7:59 am

I am 55 years old and will retire on September 30, 2011. I am retiring with health benefits. I am leaving so that hopefully a younger person may take my position; because i will not be getting a cost of living raise for the next two years and there is no hope of moving up, because there is no positions to move up in. So, I figured why continue to work and not get anymore pay. Give this position to someone younger so that they get a start in the work place. I have grandchildren that I could help out with; saving my son and his wife daycare cost.


August 4th, 2011
8:01 am

I remember a few years ago when the experts were crying that there was going to be a severe “talent” shortage due to the Baby Boomers retiring en masse. Now it looks to be a problem of advancement for the Gen X and Gen Y crowd. Gen X is stuck until the Boomers finally move on, thereby delaying their opportunity to retire. Inherently Gen Y will have to wait as well. If this keeps up, People won’t actually get to start their careers until they are in their 30’s and will inevitably have to work until they die, due to the loss of income during the “prime earning” years.

Go Figure

August 4th, 2011
8:04 am

I’m seeing older workers who can’t get hired on despite being qualified because there “isn’t the budget for them”…and its in critical needs areas like math & science teaching jobs. Why have the pay scale if they can’t pay a qualified candidate what he’s supposed to earn under that scale?

a reader

August 4th, 2011
8:08 am

i’m 57 and can’t see myself being able to afford to retire – ever.


August 4th, 2011
8:18 am

not surprised at all….that’s why we should refer to the baby boomers as the “debt” generation. Thanks for teaching us it is ok to put everything on credit. Thankfully, I saw how miserable debt, big homes, expensive cars, boats, etc. made you, so lesson was learned. I know a baby boomer that owes Victoria Secret over $500…for underwear. Like I stated, not suprised at all.


August 4th, 2011
8:22 am

I’m 50 and envision working til I’m somewhere between 68-70…we all know SS will take a hit…and hopefully my 401K will have accumulated enough money to allow me to retire…I’ve just had to dip into an IRA to pay for my eldest child’s senior year at a private HS….thankfully, he was awarded an athletic scholarship for college….and we are leveraged against almost all of our home’s equity.


August 4th, 2011
8:26 am

@ Don: Hook up with the VA. I think there some income requirements, but you probably qualify if you’re laid off. Lots people think you’ve got to be service-connected to qualify for VA care, but that’s not the case. I’m also a Viet Nam veteran and I’ve used them for years because I pretty much can’t get health insurance otherwise. I’ve always gotten excellent care.

Allie F.

August 4th, 2011
8:48 am

This is a joke. There are NO jobs for people over 55 (or 50, for that matter). The older employees are the first to go, and no one will hire them. Now these talented, hard working individuals are losing everything they have worked for all their lives….homes, savings, IRA and will be living in hell for the rest of their lives.


August 4th, 2011
8:57 am

Still working at a job I love, feel blessed at 64. Gotta keep the mind active! No moping around here!!


August 4th, 2011
9:01 am

There are laws on the books to protect older workers from job discrimination in hiring and firing. These laws are not worth the paper they are printed on. Any more questions?


August 4th, 2011
9:03 am

My dad is 72 and he started a new job in a new industry (new to him, anyhow) about 5 years ago. His reason for still working is not just for the money. If the inactivity of not working wouldn’t kill him, my mom probably would! All kidding aside, he needs the work and has been a valuable asset to the company he’s working for. It’s a win/win.


August 4th, 2011
9:06 am

I always tell people that they will have to roll my dead body into the hallway. That is the only way I will be able to “retire.”


August 4th, 2011
9:15 am

I’m 55 and have had a 401K since my late 20’s. My employee does not offer any type of insurance coverage in retirement, and not much of a plan even now. I don’t see me retiring until at least 65, but that is assuming Medicare and SS will still be in place then which I seriously doubt. After this debt ceiling debacle and them allowing the debt ceiling to be raise, I feel that is the beginning of the end. The countries debt will now spiral till it crashes down around us. Who I really fear for is my kids and grandkids. And we have 535 criminally insane idiots in DC to thank. Sorry, make that 537. Can’t forget the Pres and his VP.

Ava M.

August 4th, 2011
9:22 am

I’m 58 and plan to work through my full retirement age of 66. I’ve retired from my previous company due to a buy-out, but I was fortunate enough to continue working with the new company. I’m still working because I enjoy it, and I need the money. Also, I did start working a seasonal job that can continue after my retirement. I think it is important that we use what we have to re-invent ourselves and create opportunities for ourselves. Keeping a positive attitude is always beneficial.


August 4th, 2011
9:39 am

I agree with both. Older workers are being forced out of the door and it is preventing companies from hiring younger workers. Also the people that are not retiring they are holding up promotions for the other people. I used to work for City Government and the department I worked for forced older employees out of the door. It’s a shame that the economy is so messed up that older workers sometimes feel that they have to keep working in order to make ends meet. That is so wrong. That ’s what happens when you have Republicans in the white house for 8 years!

Older workers

August 4th, 2011
9:45 am

I used to work with this lady and she refuses to retire. She has worked for this place for over 36 years. The reason she is not retiring has nothing to do with the need to work. She has not retired because she loves the accolades and attention she receives from the Mayor and other people. She is a grandmother and should take time out with her grand child. It’s more important for her to receive accolades from the Mayor and the public and pat herself on the back than it is for her to retire. She has maxed out on her pension. So she is basically working for free because the money that is constantly going towards her pension will end up back in the general funds. That’s really sad!


August 4th, 2011
9:46 am

Screw the kids. I’m going to work until I die. Why? Because it’s never been ‘work’. I like getting up, thinking, and doing every day. Retire to me means sleep and I don’t plan to sleep away my remaining years.


August 4th, 2011
9:59 am

It would be interesting to know how having a republican in the white house caused your company to displace older workers.
Why are they still being displaced?
In even higher numbers?


August 4th, 2011
10:03 am

If you’re an older worker, are you planning to stay longer than you thought you would? Why?

I would love to retire.. and spend time with my grandchildren… but one of the reasons I have to continue working is to help my children. I have one that has been unemployed since 4/1… her job went to India.. and with this economy you never know.. so right now I am helping with house payments and medical bill for my 40 somthing child. It would be tough paying for Insurnace but I think I could manage until 65.. but can’t afford insurance and double house payments. Praying that things get better so I will have time to enjoy retirement and not just die on the job.


August 4th, 2011
10:04 am

I am 61 years old.

Come on Man

August 4th, 2011
10:05 am

It’s a free country and I will work as long as I want to. SS will be around in some capacity because it buys votes.


August 4th, 2011
10:20 am

I continue working because my children cannot find good jobs and make enough to support themselves. I’m housing 3 unemployed people at the moment. And if I lose my job, then all *ell will break loose. I am old and tired. And I know if I’m laid-off, I’ll never find another job because of my age. And I’m really tire of people saying crap like ‘you can find a job if you want too’. That isn’t reality today. And pay is so low these days, I don’t know how anybody makes it.


August 4th, 2011
10:21 am

Its not easy and sad to see some of this but many live beyond their means or at their means at the expense of their future.

Paying for your kids private HS with IRA money when your house is maxed out. Having items like smart phones, cable etc be neccesities. Many people CAN AFFORD to save and retire but they choose other priorities instead.


August 4th, 2011
10:26 am

I’m 64 and was going to work until I’m 70, but was recently laid off for the 3rd time. It was next to impossible to get my last job, so I know not to expect any better this time. I’ve got Cobra but that’s expensive, never thought I’d be anxious to get to Medicare. My 3 pensions together aren’t a couple hundred dollars.

Dave Perry

August 4th, 2011
10:27 am

Something is screwed up with this economy when in fact that if more people were working more people would be making purchases thereby creating more jobs for more people who would spend their money on purchases and therefor creating more jobs …

Caramel Colored Carbonated Sugar Water

August 4th, 2011
10:29 am

I’m 60, and will be here until they toss my butt out the door, or turn 66, whichever comes first.


August 4th, 2011
10:34 am

I worked 33 years for a company before they closed their doors in 2000. I then moved to another city, bought a house (because it was cheaper than renting) and started working in various jobs. Serious illness in our family(brother) forced me to lose my job that I loved, and now I am home, he is in a nursing home, after me trying to take care of him in my home, and I am completely broke. I spent all of my accumulated vacation pay, 401-k, bank savings and everything. I am 68, and am thinking about trying to find another part time job. Insurance is not a problem, so I don’t need to work full time. I have pension and SS checks, but they are not enough to cover my expenses. I lost 1400 to 2000 in income. I love being at home after working 58 years of my life, but it is no fun without money to do things, like buying food and clothes and traveling.


August 4th, 2011
10:35 am

Since I cannot raise my personal debt ceiling by a few trillion dollars, I will probably work until the day I die. Unlike the government who can fund imaginary money, that same imaginary money will not pay my rent, utilities, car insurance, car payments, food, etc. I should have been a better steward of my own finances but like the government, I spend more than I should.


August 4th, 2011
10:43 am

When I was in my early 40s, I targeted 55 as my age to semi-retire — a combination of part-time contract work, volunteer work, and leisure time — and I worked toward that goal. Now that I’m close to 54, I have significant savings and no debt, but I don’t feel confident enough to let go of my full-time job with benefits. The issues contributing to my lack of confidence are: fragile macro-economic conditions unlike any I’ve experienced in my life, the high cost of good healthcare (without employer benefits), and the difficulty for a worker over 55 to get rehired. In short, the future looks too unpredictable for me to give up a well-paying job and the opportunity to continue building retirement savings.

The Thin Guy

August 4th, 2011
11:01 am

I intend to work until I am fired or expired. You need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. For me it’s my job. When Albert Einstein was on his death bed his nurse asked him why he was playing with equations. His response was work is the only reason for being alive. Besides, with today’s economy if you have a job you’d be a fool to give it up.


August 4th, 2011
11:02 am

Sladersaan, you are so waaaaaaay off, or were you just babbling blindly. Baby boomers have paid into social security for more years than you’ve probably been alive. You must be referring to certain upper-class or wealthy, certainly not middle-class or the poor. Perhaps you were taught that money grows on trees but I surely was not.


August 4th, 2011
11:03 am

I believe , as your survey states, people are working longer. The elimnation of the traditional company pension has contributed in large part to this. Even if someone has done well with their 401K, they are not sure if the funds will run out before their need does. A retiree at 65 could easily live into their 80’s and are worried about outliving the 401K.

Many people who are healthy will continue to work as long as they can. The need is financial as well as having something to do. Daytime TV is lousy!!


August 4th, 2011
11:10 am

The reason most continue to work is due to the fact that they failed to put aside sufficient resources to retire without financial problems.


August 4th, 2011
11:29 am

Hey Max, get a brain! The “Free Market” has benefited no one but the corporations, execs, and lobbied/PACed legislators. If there were jobs to be had people would be going to them. And the bunk about “older” workers being desirable is garbage. See how many 45, 50, 55, 60, 65 year olds are being hired no matter what their experience. And what about the new way to weed out job applicants by refusing to consider people currently out of work. Let’s see you get downsized, have to pay COBRA on top of your regular bills, and then see how quickly you get rehired and what kind of job you get. Very easy to run your mouth in ignorance when you think you are invulnerable to what the rest of us face.


August 4th, 2011
11:29 am

WHERE is our Georgia Department of LABOR in all of this??? No companies cannot ask your age. However, just about on every application people are completing out there – they “remarkably” ask “WHAT YEAR DID YOU GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL?” This is ILLEGAL and better monitoring by our state would assist. Also, I truly believe the Ga. Dept. of Labor needs to start having state-wide job fairs on a REGULAR basis. The caliber of people they hire at these DOL offices most do not know diddly about job hunting. It is like a mill – run them in and run them out. The DOL needs to hire some experience professionals with great job fair experience and start having these regularly throughout the state. Put the pressure on the companies to HIRE…..


August 4th, 2011
11:35 am

Hey hyrder: what about those of us who put hundreds of thousands away and saw it vanish when our pension plans vanished, taking our IRAs with them? And the stock market problems that have taken even more? And the bank failures in which we lost hundreds of thousands more than the FDIC made whole? How much do you have put away and what kinds of protections do you have to protect it? Let’s see your foolproof ideas. And when were putting it away all those years we were keeping the economy going by spending judiciously. Most of the middle class never expected to depend on social security or medicaid alone because they are not enough to live on. We did our bit and believed in our company plans to which we contributed and take a look at today’s economy? Maybe you need to know what you are talking about before you spew generalities.


August 4th, 2011
11:56 am


August 4th, 2011
12:33 pm

Good job middleoftheroader. Thanks.


August 4th, 2011
1:37 pm

40 is considered old among employers, and so many are letting go the older and expensive employee and keeping the young cheap one, which is what happened to me. Not even given a chance to keep my job at a lower salary. I have been applying to jobs for over 2 years, and the only interest I get are from multilevel marketing companies and commission only sales jobs. I am applying even to entry level jobs and cannot get an interview. There is over a 100 people for each postition. It’s a lot worse out there than the media and powers in ofiice thinks. Not everyone can dig ditches or move to another state to work. The way companies screen resumes and blow people off at job fairs makes the problem worse. If I qualified for SS, you bet I would take it. Better than nothing.


August 4th, 2011
1:39 pm

@N: Probably the best post on this article so far. Sometimes when pointing the blame finger, it’s best to start with a quick glance in the mirror before you get started with Washington.


August 4th, 2011
1:41 pm

Sizemore, as opposed to the USSR Command ecomony that we’re running now, courtesy of the leftist Dims that have turned a recession into a depression and a managable national debt into a monster, yes, I prefer a free market economy. Thanks for asking.
All the federal spending over the last 50 years, beginning with the Kennedy and Johnson admins, and not too much deviation when GOP presidents were in office, have left us down the drain. Throw a culture of ungodliness on the heap, along with the afforementioned mismanagement, and here we are.
Of course, let’s keep listeing to, and electiong liberals to run our affairs; maybe the economy will finally improve in about 10-20 years–THEN you can retire, if you still have any time left. Lotsa luck.
If you voted Dim in the past, you’re responsible for what’s going on right now. They turned the recession into a depression–of course they had help, but mainly it’s liberalism that’s to blame.
Poverty doesn’t come from above–take a minute and figure that one out…


August 4th, 2011
2:04 pm

Billy – “Poverty doesn’t come from above–take a minute and figure that one out…”

Wow, really? Anyone else on here ever been fired by a subordinate?


August 4th, 2011
2:50 pm

I am 65 years old. Have been on my job for 19 years in a supervisory position in a small corporate office. I love my work as well as the interaction with associates. I see no reason to retire. I will start drawing SS and continue with my regular paycheck. I plan to do this until I can no longer do so. Almost all the retirees that I have contact with that is my age just want to discuss medical problems. I have a couple but working keeps them from being the main thing in my mind. I don’t want to retire and sit at home waiting to die. A person’s attitude about working changes when you do it because you want to and don’t have to.


August 4th, 2011
3:08 pm

Hey Billy, is it not true that this country’s budget surplus (as Clinton left office) disappeared during the Bush/Cheney admin. Looks like they left Obama and the libs holding the ball.