What retirement? Older adults work more hours for higher pay than in the

About one in five Americans age 65 and older worked for pay in 2023, nearly double the share of older adults who were working 35 years ago — and their hours and wages have increased.

While some older adults are working by choice, others are working by necessity. But regardless of the motivation, older workers have become a growing contributor to the overall workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

Read: ‘I needed something to do’: How working in retirement is being embraced by older adults and companies

“More older adults are working. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? We can’t answer whether it’s by choice or necessity. But from the standpoint of the economy, it’s a good thing. Older adults are contributing to labor-force growth,” said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew.

In addition to the increase in the number of older workers, their earnings power has grown, as well. In 2022, the typical worker age 65 or older earned $22 per hour, up from $13 in 1987, Pew found. In comparison, workers 25 to 64 earned $25 an hour in 2022. (All dollar amounts are in 2022 dollars.)

While older workers make less per hour, the wage gap between them and younger workers has narrowed in recent years, according to Pew.

Fry suggested that older workers may be paid less in part because many are working part-time jobs, which tend to offer lower wages than full-time work. A total of 62% of older workers are working full time, compared with 47% in 1987.

Read: Older workers are ‘neutral’ to company profits or productivity — and that’s a good thing

Overall, older workers accounted for 7% of all wages and salaries paid by U.S. employers in 2023, up from 2% in 1987, Pew found. 

The increase in older workers can be attributed to higher levels of education than in the past, to policy changes — such as the near-vanishing of pensions that encouraged retirement at a specific age — and to occupations changing to become more “age friendly,” Fry said. 

Also read: Coming to your job — more older workers

As a group, older adults are also healthier and less likely to have a disability than in the past, which allows them to extend their working lives, according to the Pew report.

Older workers also are less likely to say they find their job stressful, reporting higher levels of job satisfaction overall compared with younger workers, Fry said. 

Still working at 75 — and older 

Workers 75 and older are the fastest-growing age group in the workforce, Pew found. About 9% of adults age 75 and older are employed, compared with 4% in 1987.

“If we look at those age 75 to 79, the employment may be in double digits, while it falls to single digits for those in their 80s,” Fry said. “The percentage falls with age.”

Workers who are 75 and older earn a median wage of $20 an hour, slightly lower than the $22 for all workers 65 and older, Pew found. Still, since 1987, the over-75 cohort has seen…

Read More: What retirement? Older adults work more hours for higher pay than in the

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