Think about a podiatrist or shoe repair service that you visit. It is likely that the business owners or service providers are older than 55. You are witnessing what the statistics show. Older workers dominate some professions. In addition, more Americans are working more years across industrial sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the percentage of Americans working after age 65 has been increasing for decades.
Reasons Seniors Work Longer
As people live longer and often healthier lives than in previous eras, it makes sense that people are staying in the workforce longer. Senior Living says that many people work for as long as possible because it keeps them active, feeling purposeful, and engaged in the community. Others work for financial reasons. Perhaps they don't receive Social Security benefits, or the benefits are insufficient to cover their needs. Many people work to stay enrolled in a group healthcare plan. And still, other older Americans realize late in life that they want a different career that fulfills them in a way their previous job did not. They may even go back to school or get new training.
How Seniors Contribute to the Labor Market
Workplaces benefit from diverse perspectives. Years of experience give older workers a depth of knowledge and understanding that may help them spot potential challenges and see solutions that younger people might miss. As their motivations for working may not be to climb the corporate ladder as much as younger workers, they may be able to call out problems without fear of those actions hurting their advancement. They often have fewer family responsibilities. They might be able to relocate and accept positions with more travel or less monetary compensation than those who are balancing raising a family with their career. Finally, they help fill pipeline gaps in certain professions, like teaching, caregiving, and medicine.
Government Response to Hiring Practices with Ageism
Unfortunately, some employers have biases against older workers. They may think that older workers lack energy, can't keep up with workplace technological advances, or take too many sick days. Also, positions requiring extensive and expensive training, like flying a newer model jet, can make hiring older people who may retire in a few years a poor return on investment. Of course, all of these challenges could be true of individuals in any age category, but ageism is still a major hurdle to employment for many older Americans.
To combat workplace ageism, the Age Discrimination Workforce Act of 1967 prohibits employers from discriminating based on age. The bill's aim is still relevant and helpful, but some details and support systems are outdated. There is bipartisan support to update it, but as of July 2022, the bill has not passed the senate.
Additionally, the head of the National Council on Aging wants the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish an "Older Workers Bureau." The bureau would operate within the labor department to "look holistically at older worker issues across the federal government" and "identify and coordinate existing federal resources, identify and work to eliminate barriers to working longer, and disseminate promising employment and training practices." Ramsey Alwin, president, and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), discusses the new bureau and the need for federal resources to promote public-private partnerships.
Making the Decision that Works for You
Many people choose to retire based on age and experience milestones for Social Security benefits, pensions, 401k withdrawals, and Medicare eligibility. Each of these has implications for your lifestyle and estate planning. An estate planning attorney or elder law attorney helps older Americans figure out how to plan to meet their needs and desires in a confidential and caring atmosphere. If you or a loved one would like to discuss when, if ever, is the right time to retire, please contact us today at (757) 222-5842 to schedule a consultation.