SHADES OF GRAY

Where the elderly are still working, whether by choice or necessity

Across the US, people are enjoying time off today for Labor Day. Perhaps they’re visiting parents or grandparents—after all, they probably have the day off work, too.

The workforce, like society at large, is aging. In the US, there are some 3 million more workers over 65 than there were a decade ago. Although these older employees only comprise 5% of the total workforce, they are one of the fastest growing groups of employed Americans:

With pensions punished by the financial crisis, some older people are working longer than they expected to fund their (delayed) retirement. And given that people are living longer, others choose to pass the time staying busy at work instead of pottering around at home. Still others are being specifically sought for their experience and sympathetic customer-service skills.

Overall, nearly a fifth of Americans over 65 are still working, which is among the highest rates in advanced economies. With similar dynamics across the rich world, other countries are catching up: Over-65 participation rates have roughly doubled in places like Canada and Germany over the past decade:

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