The impact of older workers continues to increase, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. People over age 65 are becoming a larger share of the population, and more of them are choosing to keep working.
Nearly 1 in 8 Americans is now at least 65 years old, and the Census Bureau projects they will account for more than 1 in 5 people in the United States by 2040. The total could be even larger if a recession-induced reduction in new births continues.
Among current seniors, more than 16 percent were still in the labor force in 2010. That's up from about 12 percent in 1990. In demographic terms, a shift of four percentage points in only 20 years is a big deal. The trend continued in 2011, the bureau said, rising slightly to 16.2 percent.
Older men and women alike have continued to step up their pace of working. Nearly 21 percent of male seniors were in the labor force in 2010, up from 17.6 percent in 1990. The change was larger for women, but they started from a smaller base -- 8.4 percent in 1990 to 12.5 percent in 2010.
Among "young" seniors -- those between 65 and 69 -- labor-force gains have been much greater. Nearly 31 percent of this group was still in the labor force in 2010, compared with fewer than 22 percent in 1990. For men, the rate rose to 35.8 percent from 27.9 percent; for women, it increased to 26.4 percent from 16.9 percent.
[Read: The Best Jobs of 2013.]
Yet among even older workers, more people decided to keep working. The Census Bureau says labor-force participation rates among men aged 70 to 74 rose to 20.9 percent in 2010 from 16.6 percent in 1990. For men at least 75 years of age, the rate edged up to 8.6 percent from 8 percent, but actually dipped from 9.3 percent in 2000.
A similar pattern emerged among older women. Labor-force participation rates for women ages 70 to 74 rose to 13.5 percent in 2010 from 8.4 percent in 1990. For women at least 75 years of age, the rate rose to 3.9 percent in 2010 from 2.9 percent in 1990 (also lower than the 4.2 percent rate recorded in 2000).
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Many surveys and anecdotal reports say older Americans need to continue working because of the recession's impact on their household budgets, and particularly on the investment values of their retirement funds. Retirement adequacy has been cited as a rising concern of seniors and older workers nearing retirement. Not only are nest eggs too small, but continued longevity gains have magnified people's fears of outliving their financial resources.
However, there is a strong contrary finding that older Americans have largely continued to work mostly because they like to, and not because they are hurting for money. I'll provide details on this research in tomorrow's column.
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Several larger corporations such as Starbucks, Target and Land's End are able to offer even their part-time employees benefits such as health coverage and paid vacation time (head over to ABC for a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/companies-offering-health-care-benefits-perks-part-time/story?id=14805107#2" target="_hplink">full list</a>).
For those with an entrepreneurial spirit and computer know-how, the Internet offers opportunities to bring in some cash from home -- at any hour of the day or night. Take Jose and Jill Ferrer, a retired couple <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-03-2011/more-great-part-time-jobs-for-retirees.1.html" target="_hplink">profiled by AARP</a> for supplementing a freewheeling retirement with their website, Your RV Lifestyle. By highlighting certain products related to RV living, the pair earns $700 a month, AARP reports. "And we know the potential is there to grow our website business further," Jill Ferrer says. Other ideas: <a href="http://www.etsy.com/" target="_hplink">Etsy.com</a> allows the crafty to turn a profit from their hobbies.
Personal care and home health aid topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics' list of the fastest growing occupations in America. The time commitment may vary (between 10 and 30 hours per week, according to <a href="http://www.smartmoney.com/retirement/planning/the-new-best-jobs-for-retirees-1295567405980/" target="_hplink">SmartMoney</a>), but the median annual wage is around $20,000 for both occupations, according to the BLS.
Bartending is not just for twentysomethings -- and for social butterflies, this part-time gig offers opportunity to rake in extra cash, not to mention tips, with a minimal initial financial investment (a 40-hour certification course at the <a href="http://www.newyorkbartendingschool.com/courses.html" target="_hplink">New York City Bartending School costs a little less than $600</a>, for example).
Age discrimination is less of a problem in government agencies, <a href="http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/01/30/10-Best-Part-Time-Jobs-for-Retirees.aspx#page1" target="_hplink">reports The Fiscal Times</a>. In fact, agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Transportation Security Administration actively seek older workers. Visit <a href="http://www.usajobs.gov/" target="_hplink">USAJobs.gov</a> to search for available positions.
If you've got an artistic flair or an interest in theater, makeup artists can make up to $40 an hour, and only work 20 hours a week on average, <a href="http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/06/08/7-part-time-jobs-that-pay-about-22-an-hour/#photo-2" target="_hplink">AOL Jobs reports</a>. <em>Disclaimer: qualifications may include formal training in cosmetology or theater, and a license is required to practice in several states.</em>
What better way to scratch that globetrotting itch? If you're up for an on-the-go lifestyle, flight attendants also earn up <a href="http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/06/08/7-part-time-jobs-that-pay-about-22-an-hour/#photo-6" target="_hplink">to $40 an hour</a>, making it a very well-paid part-time job.
The nonprofit sector can offer more than volunteer opportunities for retirees, and may be particularly appealing to those who "thought they wanted to change the world ... [but] put that on the back burner for 20 or 30 years while they climbed the corporate ladder," as Tamara Erickson, author of "Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation," <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120767069301298203.html" target="_hplink">told <em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a>. To get started, <a href="http://www.idealist.org/" target="_hplink">Idealist.org</a> offers listings for available paid positions in addition to volunteer opportunities: applicants with years of experience under their belts are sure to be met with open arms. Even cooler, <a href="http://www.encore.org/learn/fellowships" target="_hplink">Encore.org</a> offers paid Encore Fellowships to "match skilled, experienced professionals at the end of their midlife careers with social-purpose organizations" -- while earning a small stipend for part- or full-time work, midlifers can get their foot in the door to a fulfilling retirement job.
Usher Or Tour Guide
The pay may not be great, but if you're an arts lover, a history buff or a sports enthusiast, the perks certainly are!
Go Back To School
<em>"I studied hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy 3 years ago and now I have my own business, couldn't be happier" -- Huff/Post50 reader Lee Adley </em> It's certainly a challenge, but as our amazing readers -- and the<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/going-back-to-college-teresa-pitts_n_1626068.html?utm_hp_ref=fifty&ir=Fifty" target="_hplink"> many men and women featured on our page</a> -- can attest, going back to school and pursuing something totally different can be well worth the investment of time, money and energy.