More People Staying in the Workforce Past Age 65

Nearly one-quarter (23.2%) of people between the ages of 65 and 74 were in the labor force in 2006, the highest number in three years and an indication that fewer people are retiring at the traditional retirement age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).

According to Census Bureau data, the number of workers between the ages of 65 and 74 still in the workforce has been slowly increasing; it was 22% in 2004 and 22.5% in 2005.

The number of workers between the ages of 55 and 65 also inched up in 2006 to 62.1%, from 61.7% and 61.1% in 2005 and 2004, respectively. In the 75 years or older age range, there isn’t a clear increase or decrease: 5.7% were still working in 2004, compared to 6% in 2005, and 5.5% in 2006.

States with some of the lowest rates of older workers in the labor force include West Virginia (15.7%), Michigan (18.8%), and Arizona (19.4%); however, Michigan and Arizona were not statistically different. Some of the highest rates of older workers were found in South Dakota, Nebraska and Washington, D.C., all with about one-third of people in this age group in the labor force.

Among the 20 largest metro areas, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of people in the labor force in this age group (31.8%). Others with high percentages include Boston (28.1%), Dallas-Fort Worth (27.9%), Minneapolis-St. Paul (27.4%) and Houston (26.5%), none of which were statistically different from the other.

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