Gray Labor: The U.S. Cities Where More Seniors Are Working Past Retirement

For years those born in the decades after WWII were considered a golden generation, possibly the last to experience a job for life and, often, a healthy pension to go with it.

Yet today, 20 percent of seniors work past the traditional U.S. retirement age of 65, according to a new study from Smart Assets.

Of course people continue to work for a variety of reasons. Many enjoy it, value the social aspect, or like exercising skills built over a lifetime. Others do it because they enjoy the additional earning power it brings.

Given that the average monthly retirement benefit for Security Security recipients is around $1,780, some do it because they must, to make ends meet.

We’re working longer

A variety of factors are encouraging people to work longer. For a start, the fabled defined benefit schemes of yore, those “Rolls Royce” pensions for which employers took responsibility and which, typically, promised a retirement income of two thirds of final salary, are now vanishingly rare.

The wholesale shift to defined contribution schemes, in which the responsibility for retirement savings falls squarely on the individual, doesn’t always provide the golden years that individuals expected.

Reports suggest the average balance in employer-sponsored savings plans, including 401(k)s and 403(b)s, was $112,572 in 2022, and that’s down from $141,542 the previous year.

Providing for old age has always been fraught. The Roman emperor Augustus promised his troops a pension equivalent to 12 times their salary, after 20 years’ service. He did so not out of altruism but to quell the risk of uprising.

German chancellor Otto Von Bismarck is credited with devising the modern pension, which he introduced in the 1880s to people aged 70 and over. At the time, German life expectancy was less than 40.

A large part of the reason people work longer today is because we are living longer. While, sadly, life expectancy in the U.S. has actually fallen in recent years, people can still expect to live longer than previous generations.

Systemic factors at play

Moreover, while ancient Romans and 19th century German chancellors had vast quantities of taxable youngsters joining the workforce to pay for pensions, the U.S. has an aging population. Currently one in six people in the United States is aged 65 or over, up from one in 20 just 100 years ago.

With a birth rate of 1.64 births per woman, far below the 2.1 replacement rate, the ratio of youngsters to seniors is not going to change any time soon.

The fact that the full retirement age, traditionally 65, has been rising – to 66 for those born in 1955, and 67 for those born in 1960 or later – is also increasing the age of working seniors as a matter of course.

The fact that Social Security retirement benefits increase up until the age of 70, for each month you delay drawing them down, is a factor too.

Little wonder that in some U.S. cities, more than 25 percent of seniors are still working.

Indeed, by 2031, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that almost one third of all people aged between 65 and 74 will either still be working or out looking for work. In 2001 that figure was less than one fifth.

Somewhat ironically, employment has become a component of retirement planning. The Smart Assets study, which looked at recent labor force data for 34 of the country’s largest cities, found Dallas tops the poll, with 28 percent of over 65s there still in the labor force.

For seniors looking for work, LA, Boston and Las Vegas are the cities in which it is hardest to get.

Where seniors are working, the study suggests many are doing so for good money. People aged 65 and older who continue working in San Francisco earn on average over $193,000 per year. San Jose ($175,675), Seattle ($156,330) and Washington D.C. ($144,947) come next.

If you’re keen to keep earning after 65, for whatever reason, you’ll find loads of great opportunities on The Hill jobs Board.

Media Manager, Federal Relations Specialist, Washington DC

The Joint Commission is an independent, not for profit, and the nation’s oldest and largest accrediting body in healthcare. It is looking for a Media Manager to work closely with national healthcare consumer, policy, and trade reporters, on proactive and reactive media relations. Work is on a hybrid basis, so no more commuting five days a week.

Associate Director for Policy and Partnerships, FDA, remote

You’ll be working in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, which is responsible for carrying out the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009. You’ll be providing authoritative advice on potential and emerging tobacco policy and regulatory issues and because it’s remote, you can work from home.

Government Affairs Analyst, NASAA, Washington

North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) is devoted to supporting the work of U.S. state and territorial securities regulators. As Government Affairs Analyst you’ll have at least three years’ of experience tracking, analyzing, and summarizing state or federal legislation relating to securities regulation or a related policy area, along with strong research and communication skills.

Insurance Sales Representative, Performance Matters Association, TX

If you fancy moving to the city that already has the highest quotient of seniors in work, how

about this Insurance Sales opportunity in Dallas, Texas. PMA is actively seeking motivated individuals who desire to positively impact lives and become leaders in their community.

To discover more opportunities for you at every stage of your career, start browsing The Hill Jobs today

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