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February 01, 2024 | Tom Ballard

It’s not your imagination, we have an aging workforce

Not only are older workers increasing in number, but their earning power has grown in recent decades.

If you look around and think the workforce is getting older, you would be correct. In fact, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center, roughly one in five Americans ages 65 and older were employed in 2023 – nearly double the share of those who were working 35 years ago.

Not only are older workers increasing in number, but their earning power has grown in recent decades. In 2022, the typical worker age 65 or older earned $22 per hour, up from $13 in 1987. Earnings for younger workers haven’t grown as much. As a result, the wage gap between older workers and those ages 25 to 64 has narrowed significantly.

Linked to their higher wages, today’s older workers are different from older workers of the past in other important ways:

  1. They’re working more hours, on average, than in previous decades. Today, 62 percent of older workers are working full time, compared with 47 percent in 1987.
  2. They’re more likely to have a four-year college degree than in the past. Some 44 percent of older workers today have a bachelor’s degree or more education, compared with 18 percent in 1987. That puts them about on par with workers ages 25 to 64.
  3. They’re more likely than in previous decades to be receiving employer-provided benefits such as pension plans and health insurance. The same does not hold true for younger workers, whose access to these employer-provided benefits has decreased in recent decades. For example, among workers ages 65 and older, 36 percent now have the option to participate in an employer- or union-sponsored retirement plan (either an old-style pension or a 401(k)-type plan), up from 33 percent in 1987. Only 41 percent of younger workers have access to this type of retirement plan at work, down from 55 percent in 1987.

Click here to learn more about the findings.

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