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Why Older Adults Are Staying in the Workforce Longer

The trend of older adults staying in the workforce longer has been on the rise, with 62% of older workers now working full-time compared to 47% in 1987.

This shift is driven by a combination of factors, including financial stability, mental engagement, and the need for employers to adapt to demographic changes.

Financial Stability

One of the primary reasons older adults are staying in the workforce longer is for financial stability. Many older workers continue to work to meet day-to-day expenses, lack retirement savings, and anticipate the need for healthcare in older age.

This is particularly true for those in the 65- to 74-year-old and 75-and-older age groups, which are projected to have faster rates of labor force growth annually than any other age group.

Love for the Job

Older workers also stay in the workforce longer because they enjoy being on the job. The mental engagement and sense of purpose that comes with work are beneficial for overall well-being, health, and financial security.

This is not just a sentiment, but a reality, as older workers are found to be productive and offer exemplary skills and experience to their employers.

Demographic Changes

The aging of the population has significant labor market implications, as the dependency ratio will continue to rise as the number of economically inactive people increases relative to those who are economically active.

Employers need to adapt to this demographic shift by making accommodations to attract and retain older workers with experience. This includes offering flexible work schedules, job sharing, and more workplace training for older workers.

Loyalty and Qualification

Older workers are also more loyal and less likely to job-hop, which is beneficial for employers. Additionally, older workers are qualified in the labor market today, which is still fairly tight, and employers need to find workers who can do their jobs.

Maturity and Interpersonal Skills

Older workers bring maturity, interpersonal skills, and historical context to the upper end of the workforce, which can be pitched to potential employers as valuable assets. This is particularly relevant in industries where these qualities are highly valued.


As the number of older workers continues to grow, so too will the number of aging Americans confronting challenges like these day in and day out. Employers and policy makers must respond to this trend by embracing the opportunities and challenges presented by the aging workforce.

How can employers and policy makers effectively address the needs and concerns of older workers in today’s labor market?


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