Herman Trend Alert: Vast Majority of Older Work Force is Employed

Filed under: Opinion |

We’ve said it before: More older workers are saying “no” to retirement and continuing to work. In previous Herman Trend Alerts, we’ve been very direct in this forecast: Retirement, as we have known it for the past couple of generations, is gone. People will not retire the same way anymore. They will experience phased retirement, gradually working fewer and fewer hours. Some will not end full-time employment for years to come.

Figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics verify our assertion. Recent measurements of the American workforce reveal that of the 4,864,000 people who are over 65 and willing and able to work, 4,657,000 (95.7 percent) of them are working today. Of this number, 2,550,000 people work full-time and 2,107,000 are working part-time (less than 35 hours a week).

Breaking the statistics down even further, we learn that there are 2,705,000 people in the labor pool (working or seeking work) in the 65 to 69 age range, with 2,614,000 (96.6 percent) working. Of the workforce in the 70 to 74 age range, 1,156,000 of the 1,208,000 (95.6 percent) in the labor pool are employed. There are 888,000 in the 75 and over labor pool: An astonishing 472,000 (53.2 percent) currently work full-time and 416,000 (46.8 percent) work part-time. There are 319,000 in the 80+ age range workforce, with 309,000 (96.9 percent) of them working.

As employers seek mature, experienced, reliable, and stable employees to form the core of their workforce, the demand for older workers over the next few years will increase. Younger workers will change jobs more frequently, while more stable older employees will remain at their posts.

Some commentators attribute current and future labor shortages to the Baby Boomer generation, even though the first wave of the Baby Boomers won’t even reach 65 until 2011. Retirement will not come soon for most Boomers (born 1946-1964).

As the composition of the workforce continues to change, older workers will play an increasingly significant role. Their values emphasize the importance of being productive members of society, driving them to continue working-at some level-as long as they can.

From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com.