50-plus Workforce is Growing
Adults 50-plus represent one of the fastest growing labor groups in the United States, in part because many of today's older workers are delaying retirement. People seek senior jobs to supplement inadequate retirement income, while others continue to work for personal satisfaction. Often, seniors retire from one occupation only to begin another.
Whatever their individual plans and motivations may be, it’s clear that the number of senior workers - and the need for senior jobs - is growing rapidly.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports:
- Only 13 percent of American workers were 55 and older in 2000.
- By 2006, that figure will increase to 15 percent, and by 2015 one in five (20 percent) of all U.S. workers will be 55 or older.
- At the same time, the U.S. is expected to experience a significant drop in the percentage of younger workers age 25 to 44, making it increasingly important for employers to find ways to recruit and retain older workers.
The U.S. Administration on Aging reports that retirement patterns are changing among America's 78 million baby boomers, and this trend is expected to result in an unprecedented number of 50-plus workers participating in the workforce of the 21st century, and an increasing need for the availability of senior jobs.
According to a 2002 AARP survey of employed workers aged 45 to 74:
- The majority (69 percent) of those interviewed plan to continue working beyond traditional retirement age.
- More than a third (34 percent) of the total sample said they would work part-time for interest or enjoyment.
- 19 percent said they would work at part-time jobs for necessary income.
- 10 percent plan to start their own businesses.
- 6 percent would change careers and work "full-time doing something else."
- Less than a third (28 percent) of older workers said they would not work at all after they reach retirement age
Referral Service Helps to Meet Growing Need for Senior Jobs
While more 50-plus workers want to work and are looking for jobs, senior job opportunities are not keeping pace. That's where organizations like Workforce50/Senior Job Bank are stepping up to help.
Originally a non-profit referral service dedicated to keeping older people in the workforce longer, Senior Job Bank was designed to offer free employment referrals for job seekers over 50. Listings include occasional, part-time, temporary, and full-time employment opportunities.
Senior Job Bank founder Eric Summers says he started the referral service for workers over 50 because he sees the world's growing senior population as a large and mostly untapped resource.
"People who have honed their professional skills over a lifetime are too often left with little to do upon retirement," Summers said. "There is a wealth of experience out there, a lot of which is going to waste."
50-plus Adults Make Good Employees
By hiring senior workers, government and private employers benefit by gaining employees who are trained, experienced, and dedicated. Senior workers also fill the void created by a shrinking workforce in the post-baby boom generation.
Providing senior jobs for a growing number of 50-plus adults in the workforce not only provides businesses and other organizations with experienced employees and offers senior workers income and personal satisfaction, it also strengthens the economy in other ways.
"Employing older workers can unlock the purchasing and creative power of millions of trainable employees and eager consumers," according to AARP Board Chairman Charles Leven.
"As people age, they continue to create demand for goods and services. This, in turn, creates jobs for people to produce those products and services. In the United States, people aged 50-plus control 75 percent of the nation's disposable income and own 77 percent of all personal financial assets."
Myths About Senior Workers Are Changing
According to Leven, some of the myths that used to make it hard for 50-plus workers to find jobs have started to change dramatically. Today, an increasing number of employers are including 50-plus workers in their workforce plans and developing hiring strategies aimed at people 50-plus.
"Older workers are recognized and valued for having a good work ethic and for providing experience, knowledge, and job stability in the workplace," Leven says. "They are viewed as loyal workers who can be counted on in a crisis. All of these attributes make them desirable workers in our service-oriented economies."
How to Search for Senior Jobs
The name change from Senior Job Bank to Workforce50 reflects Workforce50's commitment to better reflect the employment power and opportunities for job seekers who are 50-plus. If you are familiar with the Senior Job Bank site, you'll notice that Workforce50 offers a streamlined appearance and more tips and job-specific information to attract employers and assist 50-plus workers with the expanding senior job market. To search for senior job opportunities in your state, check the Workforce50 (formerly Senior Job Bank) Web site.
Employers and 50-plus job seekers: Have you had experience with Senior Job Bank (now Workforce50)? Was your experience positive or negative? Please share your story with Senior Living readers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.