A larger share of baby boomers will work during their golden years versus their parents’ generation, according to new government projections. The estimates continue a 20-year trend of more and more seniors staying in the workforce.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that more than a fifth of boomers 65 and older will be holding down a job in 2024. When their parents were the same age in 1994, only a tenth were still employed. The number of older women staying employed will double to 18.4 percent from 9.2 percent, while the men’s participation rate will increase to 25.7 percent from 16.9 percent.
More boomers will be employed well into their 70s, too. The percentage of workers aged 75 and older is expected to almost double in 2024 to 10.6 percent from the 1994 rate of 5.4 percent, the bureau estimates.
The graying of the workforce could result in fewer job openings and affect employment opportunities for younger people. “The labor force is growing slowly, getting older and getting more diversified,” says Mitra Toossi, one of the study’s researchers.
She attributes the uptick in older workers to people living longer and healthier lives. Life expectancy in 1990 was 71.8 years for men and 78.8 years for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013, life expectancy had grown to 76.4 years for males and 81.2 years for females.
Toossi says boomers are realizing that retirement might last longer than they had anticipated, meaning they may need to boost their savings. “Now people have to cover a lot more years for retirement,” she says.
She also noted that some boomers may keep working to keep their health insurance through their employer or to take advantage of their employers’ benefits plans. Since employers are now choosing defined contribution plans over pensions, workers can collect more benefits if they work longer.
Financial security could be another critical reason why seniors may choose to delay retirement. A study from TransAmerica last year found that 45 percent of workers 50 and over, or later baby boomers, said they didn’t have enough retirement savings. A quarter said they have yet to recover or may never recover from the Great Recession, while two-thirds planned to work past 65 or not retire at all.