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  • Gary Campbell

Seniors Are Entering or Rejoining the Workforce in Record Numbers

Retirement is no longer the one-way street it used to be. More and more seniors are deciding to delay retirement or even "unretire" by rejoining the workforce after initially retiring. This trend is expected to continue growing over the next decade.


A recent report by the ChamberofCommerce.org examined data on senior employment rates across 170 major U.S. cities. The results provide interesting insights into where seniors are most active in the workforce and the factors driving this trend.


Key Highlights Show Seniors Staying Economically Engaged

  • Over 21% of seniors nationwide are still participating in the workforce, totaling over 11.8 million people. This proportion is expected to rise to 30.7% for adults ages 65-74 by 2031 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

  • The top-ranking cities for senior employment are actually concentrated in the Washington, D.C. metro area and Texas. Alexandria, VA has the highest rate at 36.8%, with Washington, D.C. fifth highest at 29.4%. Several Texas cities also make the top 20 — Dallas at 30%, Plano at 28.9%, Arlington at 27.1%, and Frisco at 26.2%.

  • Top occupations employing seniors include agricultural roles like farmers and ranchers, transportation jobs such as bus drivers, and positions in real estate, building inspection, and religious organizations. This indicates demand for wisdom and life experience.


For advocacy groups like the Gray Panthers who aim to promote economic justice and wellbeing for seniors, these statistics highlight shifting cultural norms and experiences around retirement timelines and lifestyles in 21st century America.


Financial Necessity and Personal Fulfillment Driving Trend

Seniors are heading back into the workforce for a combination of financial and personal reasons, according to experts.


Many seniors are working part-time to supplement retirement savings that took a hit after the Great Recession. Others are finding they need supplemental income to keep up with rising healthcare costs and inflation. Considering how Gray Panthers started because Maggie Kuhn was forced into retirement, it’s interesting how economic conditions are now causing some seniors to unretire. 


But for many, working in retirement provides a sense of purpose and allows them to stay active and engaged in their communities. 


Tailoring Jobs and Workplaces to Support Senior Talent

As more seniors look to stay in the workforce, companies, and communities will need to consider how to best support them. An estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day — so this is a vast pool of talent entering retirement age.


Some ways employers can retain and recruit senior workers include:

  • Offering flexible work arrangements — part-time, freelance, seasonal/project-based work

  • Supporting remote work and telecommuting options

  • Implementing phased retirement programs to transition retirees

  • Creating age-friendly workplaces catered towards senior needs


Tapping into this growing senior talent pool can be a win-win — providing economic mobility for seniors while benefiting from their decades of accumulated skills and experience.


Read Full Report on Senior Employment Levels

This summary only highlights portions of ChamberofCommerce.org's insightful report on senior employment trends across major U.S. cities.


Read full report here for more details on specific cities with high senior employment and factors driving this trend: Senior Employment Trends in the US


Understanding economic engagement of older adults is vital for age advocacy groups and policymakers alike working to support our rapidly aging population.


Written by Gary Campbell, outreach and communications specialist for ChamberofCommerce.org, an organization dedicated to empowering small business owners in the US with free, up-to-date reports, practical guides, and informative roundups covering essential business topics.


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