From figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the workforce is becoming an increasingly grey place. As more Americans reach the age of 65, more of them are also choosing to stay employed and are significantly altering the demographics of the modern labor force.
About one out of every eight Americans is a senior citizen, but by 2040 that number is expected to rise to more than one out of five, or greater than 20%. As the recent recession has also taken a toll on birth rates, that percentage could be even larger if fewer people are having children.
In 2010, about 16% of senior citizens remained in the workforce. That’s a 4% increase from 1990 when 12% were doing the same.
For seniors between the ages of 65 and 69, a group referred to as “young seniors,” the numbers are even greater. Almost 31% of these seniors continued working in 2010, up from only 22% in 1990.
Of all seniors, men tend to remain in the workforce more than women, though both groups are seeing a rise in the number who stay in the labor force. In 2010, about 21% of senior males remained working, while 12.5% of women also remained in the workforce. In 1990, those numbers were at 17.6% for men and about 8% for women.
Surveys have shown that one of the main reasons older Americans are choosing to work is because they need to. They simply do not have enough money to retire comfortably and have had to rearrange their priorities in the wake of the recent economic downturn. Other data, mostly anecdotal, has also said that seniors are choosing to work more because they enjoy it and because they are remaining active into their old age.