One-Fifth of Retirement-Age Americans Are Working, And Their Ranks Are Growing

Today, approximately one-in-five Americans 65 and older are working or looking for jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The percentage of Americans working after turning 65 is expected to increase to 23.3% in 2028, according to recent analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which reports the workforce participation rate for the same age group was just 12% in 1998.

About half of the 9 million working senior citizens in the U.S. are employed in retail, health care, business services or education, according to Pew’s analysis. While some of the highest-paying jobs held by seniors are at colleges and universities, where their average salary is over $93,000 a year, more than 165,000 working seniors are employed in grocery stores where they earn an average of $31,000 a year.

To some extent, the rise of older workers is displacing younger ones, writes Pew. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that as older people return to the job market, younger people 16 to 24 are not seeking jobs as much as they once did — partly because they’re staying in school, as the long-term benefits of college degrees become more obvious. But part of the reason is that older workers now hold the kinds of jobs that entry-level workers once did.”

Pew notes that some of the rise in senior employment may be due to Social Security sticker shock, when older Americans realize that their Social Security benefits fall far short of their living expenses. Currently, benefits for those who claim Social Security at age 62 max out at $2,209 a month, while those filing at age 70 will find that their benefits max out at $3,770 a month.

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