Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The number of Americans 65 and older either working or looking for jobs has grown by more than 35 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
Retirement experts said it is due to people living longer and wanting to work, as well as concerns that retirement savings may be eaten up by stock market losses and that Social Security and other benefits won’t cover senior citizens’ needs.
“Increasing longevity means that people need to finance a longer period of retirement. Many people have not saved enough money for retirement and are facing increased costs of living – particularly burdensome are housing costs and medical expenses,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
“One of our big challenges is that the number of defined benefit pension plans sponsored by the nation’s largest corporations continues to fall,” said Fiesta. “Just 99, or about 20 percent, of Fortune 500 companies offered a defined pension plan to salaried employees in 2015, down from 104, or nearly 21 percent in 2014, and a dramatic fall from a decade earlier in 2005, when 248, or just 48 percent of Fortune 500 firms, offered plans. As these plans continue shrinking, the U.S. workforce also continues to age,” he added.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections reveal that by 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be retirement age.
“Aging baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history, ‘’ the U.S Census Bureau reports.
Fiesta points out that the 2030s will be a transformative decade for the U.S. workforce. The population is expected to grow at a slower pace, age considerably and become more racially and ethnically diverse.
While some seniors have simply delayed retirement and others have taken the opportunity to open small businesses , many were forced back into the labor market. More than 15 percent of 65-and-over employees worked in sales in 2017, the largest share of any occupation.
According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of this age group in 2017 – the latest figures available – had grown to 19.3 percent. Other occupations most held by seniors include management positions. The number of workers in this field increased by 13 percent between 2014 and 2015.
“Other reasons for older workers remaining in the workforce are that they are living longer, healthier lives and feel like working longer,” said Fiesta.
But concerns over the solvency of Social Security, rising health care costs and a fluctuating economy have played roles, too. The effort to shore up Social Security – to compensate for more and long-lived retirees – has prompted the government to start raising the age when a worker can claim full benefits.
Experts also argue that there may not be enough young workers to go around as more baby boomers retire. A declining and aging population places at risk the stability of the country’s workforce and opportunities for economic progress. And these older Americans are projected to be the fastest growing segment of the workforce through 2024.