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Workforce » Labor Force Participation

Why It's Important

Baby Boomers comprise a disproportionate share of the labor force relative to their incidence in the population. Their impending retirement could provoke a huge drain of both resources and knowledge for many companies. A lack of preparation for knowledge transfer to younger workers could be catastrophic for companies, organizations and governments. While some older adults will retire, others will choose to continue working in their current jobs or pursue new careers. Employer attitudes and an individual's sense of self-efficacy affect whether older people will continue working.

 

How Richmond Is Doing

Boomers comprise 37 percent of the labor force in Richmond and in Virginia. In Richmond, 74 percent of Boomers are in the labor force, same as in Virginia overall. Nationally, that number is 73 percent. (CENSUS BUREAU, ACS, 2007)

Boomers as a percentage of total population and of total labor force (Richmond MSA and Virginia)

(CENSUS BUREAU, ACS 2007)

 

Boomers' View of Retirement, Only 38% Say They WIll Retire as Soon as They Are Eligibile or Able

(ODP RESIDENT, 2008)

 

Boomers' Current Employment Status

(ODP RESIDENT, 2008)

How Virginia Is Doing

  • Three in four Boomers are currently in the labor force in the Richmond MSA and in Virginia (CENSUS BUREAU, ACS, 2007)
  • Only one in ten Virginians over age 65 are currently in the labor force (11%) -- the percent is higher -- one in seven (15%) -- in Richmond (CENSUS BUREAU, ACS, 2007)
  • Boomers comprise 26 percent of the population but 37 percent of the labor force in Virginia (CENSUS BUREAU, ACS, 2007)

Boomers as a percentage of total population and of total labor force (Richmond MSA and Virginia)

(CENSUS BUREAU, ACS, 2007)

How the U.S. Is Doing

According to "Living Longer, Working Longer: The Changing Landscape of the Aging Workforce"" -- A 2006 MetLife Study:

  • Approximately half of all respondents surveyed characterize their health as "excellent" or "very good" – 49 percent of 66-70 year-olds, 52 percent of 60-65 year-olds, and 54 percent of 55-59 year-olds, indicating an aging workforce that appears to be healthy enough to handle the physical demands of work for the foreseeable future
  • Among workers age 55-59, economic incentives for returning to and/or remaining in the workplace take precedence, with 72 percent of employees in this age bracket citing "need income to live on" as a primary reason for working
  • Economic incentives were also the number one motive cited by 60-65 year olds (60%), followed by a desire to "stay active and engaged" (54%) and "do meaningful work" (43%)
  • Among 66-70 year-olds, 72 percent of employees cited the desire to "stay active and engaged" as a primary reason to work, followed by "the opportunity to do meaningful work" (47%) and "social interaction with colleagues" (42%)

(METLIFE, LIVING LONGER WORKING LONGER, 2006)


According to a 2008 report by the Congressional Research Service for Congress, Economic growth is expected to be affected because labor force participation begins to fall after age 55. In 2007, 91% of men and 75% of women aged 25 to 54 participated in the labor force. In contrast, just 70% of men and 58% of women aged 55 to 64 were either working or looking for work in 2007. (CRS REPORT FOR CONGRESS 2008)



Table 3. Employment of Men Aged 55 and Older, 1990 to 2008

Table 4. Employment of Women Aged 55 and Older, 1990 to 2008


Seventy-one percent of men and seventy-five percent of women who began receiving Social Security retired-worker benefits in 2006 applied for benefits before age 65. (CRS REPORT FOR CONGRESS, 2008)

Participation in the Labor Force is declining for men in older age categories. It also shows increased labor force participation in the past decade. (BLS, CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY 2006)


Labor force participation rates of men age 55 and over, by age group, annual averages, 1963-2006

 

Labor force participation rates of women age 55 and over, by age group, annual averages, 1963-2006

 

According to the article, A Century of Change: the U.S. Labor Force, 1950-2050, from the Monthly Labor Review, more boomer women will have their own resources coming into old age because of their higher labor force participation rate.

Labor Force Participation

(TOOSI, MITRA. MONTHLY LABOR REVIEW, MAY 2002.
A CENTURY OF CHANGE:
THE U.S. LABOR FORCE, 1950-2050)

 

Data & Information Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics

http://www.bls.gov/data/

Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends, 2008

http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL30629_20080915.pdf

Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics

http://www.agingstats.gov/agingstatsdotnet/main_site/default.aspx

MetLife, Changing Workforce, 2006

http://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/mmi-studies-living-longer.pdf

ODP, Residents’ Study & Business Leaders’ Study

http://www.olderdominion.org/documents/ODP_Exec_Sum_03_26-08.pdf

Toosi, Mitra, Monthly Labor Review, A Century of Change: the U.S. Labor Force, 1950-2050, May 2002. Table 2

http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf

U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/

Virginia Workforce Connection

http://www.vawc.virginia.gov/analyzer/default.asp