Our Aging Workforce
What is the Aging Workforce Trend? How is Industry Impacted? Who is the Older Worker?

What is the Aging Workforce Trend?

In Seattle-King County and across the country, our population is aging—and with it, our workforce. 

Over the past few decades, what has historically been the U.S.’s primary labor force (those between the age of 22 and 64) has grown faster than the overall population. But as the Baby Boom generation gets older and the birth rate declines, that is changing. Starting in 2010, the percentage of the population that is 22 to 64 will decrease, and that of people over age 65 will increase.

The upper end of the workforce—ages 55-64—will expand to become a much larger proportion of the workforce. This expansion is especially steep in King County. As shown below, King County’s 55-64 age group was just under 10% in 1995, but is projected to increase to 16% by 2010.

If projections come true, more workers will reach retirement age with fewer younger workers to take their place. What does this mean for our local workforce and economy?

One result could be large gaps in the labor force and possible economic hardship as companies scramble to find skilled replacements for retirees. Several important industry sectors and “knowledge occupations” are vulnerable because they have a high proportion of older workers. But many people will keep working past age 65—out of necessity or desire. It will be important for employers, the workforce system and other stakeholders to understand their unique needs and adapt to them. Planning ahead for this significant demographic shift is crucial to our labor market and economy.

Office of Financial Management and U.S. Census Bureau

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How Is the Industry Impacted?
Who is the Older Worker?
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