The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS), in their article titled “Older Workers: Labor Force Trends and Career Options,” indicates that approximately 40 percent of people 55 and older are either working or seeking work. This number is called the labor force participation rate. Labor force participation is the proportion of the population that is in the labor force.
The trend for the older worker has been increasing and is expected to continue its climb for at least the next ten years. Mitra Toossi and Elka Torpey, both economists at the BLS were interviewed for this article.
According to Mitra Toossi, “The labor force participation rate of the older labor force; 55-years-and-older, including the 65 to 74-year old’s have been increasing because people are living longer, healthier lives and they work more years to have income during their older ages. Also, most get their health insurance through work and having health insurance is a must for older workers. In addition, the Social Security age for retirement has increased and to take full advantage of the benefits you have to work longer years. Also, the whole structure of the benefits has changed from defined benefit to defined contribution, so when you work longer you pay more towards your retirement and to your 401 accounts.”
Additionally, Toossi cites, “By 2024, BLS projects that the labor force will grow to about 164 million people. That number includes about 41 million people who will be ages 55 and older—of whom about 13 million are expected to be ages 65 and older. The 164 million is the total number of the labor force in 2024 and not the 65+ labor force.”
Toossi relates “It is projected that the women’s labor force will be growing faster in the next ten years since women are primarily in occupations such as health services and educational services and these are projected to be increasing in the next decade.”
The referenced article indicates, “more than 42 percent of the workers were in management, professional and related occupations, and this was at a higher proportion than for all workers. Some other related fields for older workers, 55 and older make up at least one-third of occupations total employment in 2016.”
Another factor indicated in the article was self-employment. The BLS data specifies that the older worker age group had a higher self-employment rate than that of workers in younger groups. Elka Torpey states, “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of self-employed workers in all occupations will increase by 5.8 percent between 2014 and 2024. This compares with a projected 6.5 increase for all workers in all occupations over that time period.”
Other data the article denotes, “27 percent of workers ages 55 and older, and 18 percent of workers ages 25 to 54 were part-time (usually 1 to 34 hours per week) in 2016. For workers ages 65 and older, the rate of part-time employment is even higher: 40 percent.”
Older workers, for the foreseeable future, will continue to have a significant impact on the economy. One of the major benefits of federal employment is early retirement, most can retire at age 55 with 30 years of service. Many federal retirees seek employment to remain active, earn additional funds for fun and necessity, and simply to stay involved in their respective fields.
The Federal Retiree’s Job Center, located on FederalRetirement.net, lists many jobs for retirees. Private sector employers target federal retirees that are known for their exceptional skills and strong work ethic. Federal retirees may also reapply and return to federal employment under the rehired annuitant program.
Helpful Career Planning Tools
- Applying For Federal Jobs (Introduction)
- Federal Retiree’s Job Center
- Career Development Guide for Federal Employees
- BLS Website
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