I recently read some interesting labor statistics.
More Americans were working in March 1998 than at any other time–with 80.2% in the workforce, according to a recent article on Dshort.com, a financial publisher. Today, only 62.8% of Americans are in the workforce.
Despite that drop, the percentage of older professionals has increased.
For those between ages 55 and 64, labor participation grew from 10% in 2000 to 16% in 2014. For those 65 or older, it grew from 3% in 2000 to 5% by 2014. That means slightly over one-fifth of the current work force is over 55. The other age groups either remained the same or slightly declined.
What are the potential drivers of this trend?
- Baby boomers are not saving enough to retire. As a result of the recent recession, their savings were impacted so heavily that they must keep working.
- Older people still want to contribute, using their intellectual and other gifts, to work with others for social and psychological well-being. That may signify that retirement as a concept is ending.
- Another ‘ism’ is being struck down, along with gains made in eliminating racism or sexism. There is potentially less stigma now around utilizing older workers.
- A gap in needed skills on some roles, with older skilled workers less replaceable.
The kinds of jobs held by this group are not referenced in the article. It’s unclear whether they are more full-time, part-time or contractual. From other sources, though, it is clear that American workers will likely work longer, for more employers, and in more diverse kinds of roles than in earlier generations.