The share of older workers in the U.S. has grown significantly since the turn of the century, with 29.5% of workers in 2023 at least 65 years old, compared to 23% in 2000, according to a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

This occurred as labor force participation by older Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, while the rate of those 65 and older did not change, the data suggested.

“The movement of the Baby Boom generation out of the age groups younger than 65 has made the composition of the older workforce even older,” Craig Copeland, director of wealth benefits research at EBRI, said in the report. “At the same time, the older workforce is becoming more diverse, as a smaller share of White Americans comprise the ages 55 or older population.

“These are important considerations for employers to understand, as older workers and a more diverse workforce calls for additional or new answers to the optimal design of employee benefit plans,” he added.

Key findings of the full report include that the labor force participation rates of men ages 60 to 64 increased in 2022 and 2023 while falling among those ages 75 and older. Similar increases among women between the ages of 55 to 59 and 70 to 74 were also observed at that time, but they decreased for women in the 60-64 bracket in 2023.

“After rising to its highest point since 2001, in 2022, the male share of the labor force ages 55 or older decreased in 2023,” according to the report. “The female share of the labor force ages 55 or older has generally fallen since 2010, though it did increase slightly in 2023. Despite this, females ages 55 or older are still a higher share of the labor force than they were in the late 1990s.”

Despite the increases in 2022 and 2023, labor force participation among those ages 70 to 74 did not quite reach the pre-pandemic threshold observed in 2019, the research explained. But it did surpass pre-pandemic levels last year among the 55-64 group.

“In contrast, the labor force participation rate of those ages 75 or older in 2023 stayed at its 2021 level, below its 2019 level, while the labor force participation rate of those ages 65-69 decreased in 2023 to below its 2022 and 2019 levels,” the report explained.

Among demographic cohorts, Hispanic Americans had the highest rate of labor force participation across all older age groups when compared with Black and white Americans, despite having among the lowest such participation rate in 2000.

White Americans apparently switched places with Hispanic Americans during that time. They now occupy “some of the lowest rates compared with Hispanic and Black Americans by 2023,” the research stated.

The data used in the report was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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