Dr. Michael Forster

Older Americans postponing retirement

On the heels of yesterday’s local “Issues in Aging” conference, presented by the Pinebelt Association for Families and co-sponsored by USM’s School of Social Work and the College of Health Center on Aging, comes this important bit of aging-related news – a larger number of Americans are working longer into the “golden years,” postponing their withdrawal from the active workforce. 

The percentage of Americans 65 and older in the labor force increased from 12.1% to 16.1% over the twenty-year span from 1990 to 2010 – representing substantial and steady, if not dramatic, growth.  Men lead women in overall labor force participation, 20.8% to 12.5%, but older women’s presence in in the workplace grew faster than men’s, 4% to 3.2% – paralleling the broader trend of proportionately heavier women’s workforce participation. 

The phenomenon of postponed retirement rolls together good and bad news.  The good news is that growing numbers of Americans are healthy and able enough to remain active workers, and motivated to do so by a range of satisfactions associated with work, including the opportunity for continued social and economic contribution.  Less favorable if the flip-side of the coin – Fewer older Americans can financially afford to retire, event though they would very much like to.

Dr. Michael Forster
Dr. Michael Forster

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