More Older Workers Are Trapped In Crummy Jobs, Unable To Retire
Over the past two decades, older workers have become an increasingly significant share of the labor force. In the economic recovery after the Great Recession of 2008–2009, four in 10 Americans ages 55 or older were in the labor force—the highest participation rate in half a century. As of 2020, these older workers made up 23.6% of the total U.S. workforce, the highest portion on record. Why are so many older Americans unable to retire and so many working into old age to survive? For many, the answer isn’t “because they want to.” Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50% of low-income older households ages 55–64 were financially fragile—up dramatically from the 35% at risk in 1992.