The Great Recession wrought havoc upon the labor market: Unemployment rates increased, overall hours worked decreased, and more people over the age of retirement were forced to remain in the workforce.
According to a US Census Bureau report from June 2011, 14 percent of the civilian work force in the United States was aged 65 or older. Of that number, 58 percent were men and 42 percent were women.
Of the many reasons the older individuals are choosing to work longer, increased financial stability and the creation of a sense of community are usually the most prominent reasons.
As science and medicine have progressed over the years, so has life expectancy. With fewer disabled persons over the age of 65, this population is ready and willing to work. The nature of employment has progressed, as well. Jobs that the elderly take on usually aren’t as physically taxing as they once used to be.
The majority of jobs that employ people over the age of 65 include professional, managerial, technical and administrative support positions.
With the US minimum wage increases of 2007, 2008 and 2009, people everywhere are able to earn a few dollars more per hour than several years ago. This is an incentive for the elderly to stay in the workforce, as they are guaranteed to make more money and bolster their savings.
Another element that contributes to the aging workforce is the fact that baby boomers are beginning to come of retirement age.
A baby boomer is someone who was born during the post-World War II era that saw a dramatic increase in the number of US births. According to US Census Bureau estimates, by the year 2030, one in five US citizens will be of age 65 or older. This will undoubtedly result in an influx of older individuals in the everyday workforce.
Hours worked by the elderly were greater after the recession than before it began, although for the entire population hours worked post-recession were fewer than before. When the stock and housing markets crashed, some of the hardest hit individuals were the elderly.
The need to make money because of the recession has stimulated much of the elderly population to get back out there and find a job. Retirement is no longer an option for some, and the only way to achieve financial security is to keep working.
In some cases, employers are much more willing to hire an older person than someone at entry level; generally, they have more experience and don’t always demand high salaries.
While it may be reassuring for retirement-age persons that they can remain in the workforce if they need or choose to do so, this poses a problem for the younger population. If the 65 and older crowd take all the jobs, where will all the greenhorns and young bucks go for work?
Mulligan, Casey B. “When Times Get Tough, the Elderly Work” Economix – The New York Times http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/when-times-get-tough-the-elderly-work/ Accessed 10/6/11.
“Rates of elderly Americans in workforce climbs” CNN U.S.http://articles.cnn.com/2001-06-01/us/census.elderly_1_elderly-workers-elderly-women-older-men?_s=PM:US Accessed 10/6/11.