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

Who is the Older Worker?

The news isn’t all bad. Although many more people will be reaching retirement age, they aren’t necessarily planning to retire. Labor force participation rates for those over 60 years old are expected to increase in the next 10 years. 

That’s because these days, older workers are not necessarily able to leave the workforce, or interested in leaving. For example, an increasing number of women are working into their 70s—out of financial necessity. Another trend is emerging as well. Older workers who can afford to retire are not necessarily interested in the traditional idea of retirement at age 60 or 65. Instead, many are choosing to reduce their work hours or look for flexible or seasonal work opportunities.

Current Population Survey, March 2005 Note: FPL=Federal Poverty Level, MSA=Metropolitan Statistical Area

Knowing who the older worker is may help us better understand this growing population. Take a look at some of the demographics of today’s older worker population in and around King County, particularly the 55-64 age group—those who will reach retirement age over the next 10 years.

  • Workers aged 55-64 in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area have higher-than-average rates of poverty. In March 2005, about 11% of 55-64 year-old workers were living on incomes 150% of the Federal Poverty Level and below, compared to approximately 10% of the total labor force.
  • Work-impairing disabilities are more prevalent among older workers, with approximately 5% of workers age 55-64 burdened with a disability that limits their ability to perform certain types of work.
  • Fewer 55-64 year-olds are immigrants (both as a group and those who work). In 2005, 13% of older workers were foreign born, as compared to 16% of the entire labor force.
  • Men represent about 61% of workers age 55-64.  While men and women are evenly split in the population, men have higher rates of labor force participation in this age group.

Tomorrow’s older worker may look different. For example, King County is witnessing increasing numbers of limited-English and female older job-seekers.

Source: State of the Workforce Update, Aging Workforce report, Workforce
Development Council of Seattle-King County, April 2006.

What is the Aging Workforce?
How is Industry Impacted?
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