Older Americans Remaining in the Work Force

The percentage of older Americans (ages 55 or older) in the work force remained at its recent highs in 2011, according to a new report by EBRI.

The EBRI report, which examines the rates at which older workers participated in the work force before, during, and after the recent economic recession, finds that the labor-force participation rate for those age 55 and older has remained above its level before the economic downturn.

Specifically, the percentage of civilian noninstitutionalized Americans near or at retirement age (age 55 or older) has been rising steadily since 1993, when it stood at 29.4 percent, reaching 40.2 percent in 2010 (it remained at that level in 2011).

The EBRI analysis finds that for those ages 55–64, this trend is almost exclusively due to the increase of women in the work force; the male workforce participation rate is flat to declining.

The EBRI report notes that some older workers continue in the labor force because they want to remain involved, but many others work because they need to.

“This upward trend is not surprising and is likely to continue. Many workers continue to need access to employment-based health insurance, as well as more earning years to save for retirement,” said EBRI’s Craig Copeland, author of the report.

The press release is online here. The full report is published in the February 2012 EBRI Notes,  online here.