Data Shows Increase in Older Workers

February 13, 2008 ( - A report published by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates more older Americans are continuing to work past retirement age and are continuing to work full-time.

According to the report, Older workers: increasing their labor force participation and hours of work, by Murray Gendell, Professor Emeritus of Demography at Georgetown University, there were declines in the labor force participation rates from the 45 – 49 age group to the 75 and older age group, between 1955 and 1985, but around 1985, the pace of these declines slowed greatly. From 1994-2007 there were marked reversals of the declining trend at ages 60-64 and older.

The percentage rise in the rates of labor force participation was specially pro¬≠nounced at ages 65-69 (28%) and 70-74 (34%) the report said, and the trend of older women’s labor force participation rates has been different than that of older men.

Between 1955 and 1985, the labor participation rates for women aged 45-59 increased by more than 40%, and the rates for women 60-64 increased by 15%. After 1993, there was no further gain in labor force participation rates for women ages 45-49, and a small increase among those 50-54, but a successively larger percentage increases with age through ages 70-74, peaking at about 60%.

In addition to the notable increases in the labor force participation rates of men and women at ages 62 and older, there were notable increases at these ages between 1994 and 2007 in the percentage of employed workers who worked full-time. The percentage gains among men aged 65 and older and among women aged 62 and older were in the double digits, the report said. The rise in full-time employment for women was greater than for men.

The prevalence of full-time work for the full year has also gone up substantially among older workers since at least 1994, with the increase especially large among women aged 65 and older.

The increases in the labor force participation rates and full-time employment of older workers is accompanied by a move from Social Security retirement awards at ages 62-64 to ages 65 and 66.

“Though it is difficult to judge the pace and extent of further gains in the labor force participation rates and full-time employment of these older men and women, there is reason to believe these trends will continue,” Gendell said in the report.

The report is here .