The number of working Americans ages 65 and older is at the highest point in nearly half a century, the Los Angeles Times reports.
While older adults still make up a relatively small share of the U.S. workforce, nearly one in five adults over 65 are working or looking for work, and employment in this group has jumped 27 percent since 2007, recently surpassing 7 million.
During the same time period, labor participation rates fell for both younger adults and those in their 30s to 50s.
That last bit has some economists worried. The more older adults who delay retirement, the fewer the jobs available for young adults trying to enter the labor market or for those entering their so-called peak earning years. Yet adults over 65 who remain in the workforce are not only improving their own retirement prospects, they’re helping the country’s finances by paying Social Security and other taxes at a time when they could be drawing public benefits. It seems we’ve reached something of an impasse (unless more jobs are created, stat!).
Mike Vaupel, a 60-year-old meat inspector in Fort Lauderdale, told the Times that he’s been considering early retirement, in part because he worries for young people like his son, 34, who couldn’t find work for two years. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘How are they ever going to get ahead, because they can’t get a job, or jobs out there are bad?’” he said. But Vaupel also worries about his own finances, especially since his property value has declined so much over the past few years.