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Aging Today: Working Longer, Retiring Later – Fact Sheet

compiled by Betty Cohen


September 2012—Labor force participation among older Americans has increased compared to earlier times. The average retirement age among men, for example, has increased in recent years, reversing a near century-long trend toward earlier and earlier retirement that ended in the mid-1980s. Labor force participation among older women has increased even more, due to both the end of the trend towards earlier retirements and large increases in labor force participation, generally. Because of increases in labor force participation and increasing retirement age of older workers, many employers are implementing age diversity initiatives, but there is uncertainty about which strategies are effective.

Facts include:

  • “The proportion of adults 55-64 working or seeking work increased from 56% to 65% between 1990 and 2010. The proportion of adults 65 and older working or seeking work increased from 12% to 17% over the same period,” according to a 2011 GAO analysis of data from the BLS and Census Bureau.
  • “Retirement rates, which increased notably from 1970-1980 and remained near those levels for several decades, have recently declined. For older age groups, retirement rates are now lower than they were even in 1970,” according to a 2011 analysis of labor force projections. [Retirement defined as not actively participating in the labor force.]
  • According to a 2011 global survey of business executives, “71% see increased longevity as an opportunity, compared with 43% who consider it a risk. Nearly four times as many see it as wholly an opportunity (39%) than wholly a risk (11%), with one in three (32%) seeing it as delivering both risks and opportunities in equal measure. Relatively few firms (13%) claim to have not considered the implications of rising longevity.”

» Find more facts in the Fact Sheet: Aging Today: Working Longer, Retiring Later

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