Facts about Older Workers
Many older workers—but not all—share these characteristics.
- Life expectancy and financial need will keep people in the workforce longer.
- Over one-half of all employed Americans want to work past age 65.
- Earnings now account for 24% of income for the elderly.
- Older workers prefer part-time employment.
- The job-seeking skills of older workers are often outdated.
- Older workers remain unemployed longer than others.
- Their attendance record is superior.
- They show a low rate of accidents, although they stay out longer after an injury.
- They feel a higher level of satisfaction with their jobs.
- They possess an eagerness to learn new skills.
- They can learn even into old age.
Reasons that older workers continue to work
- They often need to make additions to retirement income
- They want to add meaning and purpose to life.
- They like to keep busy.
- They want to make social contacts.
- They need to preserve an identity tied to work.
- They want to use their special skills and education.
Impact of age on ability to work
- Differences within the population that is older are greater than differences between older and younger groups.
- Chronological age is no indicator of mental or physiological aging.
- Older people experience a gradual decline in visual acuity, auditory sensitivity for tones, muscle strength, fine-motor skills, information-processing speed, and capacity to attend to multiple concurrent tasks.
- Older adults’ use compensatory strategies to adjust to declining capabilities.
- Older workers benefit from training or retraining.
- Have longer tenure in jobs that have cognitive demands but fewer physical demands.
Sources: Sara J. Czaja, Promoting Employment Opportunities for Older Adults, Washington, D.C.:1999. Richard Swanson, Analysis for Improving Performance San Francisco, 1996: Berrett-Koehler, p. 210