Retaining Aging Workers

The growing presence of older Americans in the workforce is a fact. Our economy is relying increasingly on  50-plusers working–even if they don’t always feel the love from their employers.

  • The percentage of people 65 and older in the U.S. labor force increased from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 16.1 percent in 2010.   Census data shows the increase was greater for women.
  • The Census also projects a 67% increase in the 65-and-older population between 2015 and 2040, when one in five Americans will be 65 or older.
  • The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College says by 2019, workers 55 and older will make up 25 percent of the workforce.
  • The Urban Institute predicts workers 50 years and older will account for 35 percent of the labor force by 2019.

Many companies consistently have to deal with these experienced staff members who leave prematurely because their employers don’t accommodate them as they get older.

Now, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) says providing those necessary accommodations to aging workers with disabilities, chronic health problems or reduced work capacity will actually help them retain the aging workforce. The DOL recently issued recommendations for employers, policymakers and the health care industry on ways to keep critical, but aging, talent. One strategy is to adopt early interventions to prevent disability-related job loss by providing workers with technology to assist them on the job.

The U.S. Census Bureau says 25 million baby boomers make up about 40 percent of the workforce currently. It projects by 2020 many of those workers will leave the U.S. workforce. This will leave many jobs unfilled. In addition, as the population ages, the demand for health care services will increase just as many health care workers are also facing retirement.