America’s aging workforce is a good thing for employers and the economy, according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, noting that a new Gallup poll shows that “employee engagement increases with age, even well into workers’ 60s and 70s.”
The poll concluded that older workers are more “involved in and enthusiastic about their work and more productive members of their workplace — than younger workers.”
Weber said it is no secret that over the next 20 years Americans will be turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day. “It’s not surprising, therefore, that seniors are staying on the job much longer than in the past. Some seniors continue to work well past traditional retirement to make ends meet; many stay because they find fulfillment in their jobs.”
He pointed out that people are not only living longer these days, they’re living healthier, more active lives. That, combined with the greater freedom at home that comes with reduced family obligations, makes older employees more focused on the satisfaction of a job well done.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 1984 about 15 percent of the workforce was 65 years of age or older and that in 2014 the labor participation rate of men and women over 65 had grown to nearly 27 percent.
The Gallup survey found that employers gain a competitive advantage by utilizing the experience of older workers and taking advantage of the knowledge they’ve gained over the years. Meanwhile, a separate study by Gary Burtless, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, indicated that older workers are more productive, as well.
“Compared with earlier generations of aged Americans and compared with contemporary prime-age workers, today’s elderly are unusually well educated. Their high relative earnings and later retirement are partly explained by this fact,” Burtless concluded.
Weber said that working seniors have a positive effect on the economy. They have more disposable income and, as a result, have created a growth market for private sector companies. In fact, he pointed out, J.P. Morgan has put together an Aging Population Index to keep track of companies that benefit from the country’s ageing citizenry.
In addition, Weber noted that working Baby Boomers pay more taxes and are helping to bolster both their local and national economies.
“Ageism is still a problem for older workers, but there are signs that employers are waking up to the reality that there are a lot of benefits to keeping senior employees on their payrolls and hiring from the fast-growing pool of older job seekers. They are beginning to realize that they can be excellent role models for younger workers, that their enthusiasm is infectious, that in most cases the work means more to them than their paychecks and, of course, that they have had a lifetime of learning from their mistakes,” Weber said.
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