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Center Publication

Older Women in the Workforce — Fact Sheet

compiled by Betty Cohen


October 2013—More older women are in the workforce than ever before. In fact, much of the increase in labor force participation of older workers overall is due to the larger proportion of women in the workforce. Challenges facing older women workers include lower salaries and greater likelihood of working part-time, compared to men. They also face greater family caregiving responsibilities and express concerns about health and retirement security.

Facts include:

  • "The overall gain in labor-force participation among workers age 55 and older was primarily driven by the increases in female labor-force participation rates, as the male labor-force participation rates of that age group were lower in 2010 [46.4%] than they were in 1975 [49.4%]. In contrast, among women aged 55 and older, the rates were 35.1% in 2010, compared to 23.1% in 1975, " according to a 2011 analysis of Census Bureau data.
  • "Among workers aged 45-74, caregivers (those who have either taken leave from a job or quit a job in the past five years to care for an adult family member)…are more likely to be female (64%),” according to a 2013 AARP survey.
  • Among the respondents “nearing retirement age–ages 50 to 61–a 63% majority think they might have to delay retirement because of the recession. Women in this retirement ‘threshold generation’ have been most affected by the ailing economy. Fully 72% fear they will have to postpone their retirement plans, compared with 54% of men in this age group,” according to a 2009 Pew survey.

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