Nearly one quarter of retirement age adults are still working

Nearly one quarter of retirement age adults are still working

A myriad of positive and negative developments in the lives of older adults — including higher living costs, inflation, longer life expectancies and higher education levels — have led to a rise in the number of retirement-aged adults remaining in the U.S. workforce according to new government data analyzed by LendingTree.

The analysis was based on U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data, according to LendingTree.

Twenty-two percent of adults aged 65 and older are continuing to work, with nearly a quarter of the cohort choosing self-employment as their means of staving off retirement. While the overall national percentage of older adult workers has declined by a half-percent over the past two years, certain areas of the country have marked a notable increase in the figure, most especially in the state of New Jersey.

Of the 22% of older adults still working, “almost one in four (24.2%) are self-employed — nearly three times higher than among working Americans 25 to 39 (8.1%),” the results found. “Meanwhile, half (50.5%) of the older working population is employed by private companies and 10.3% by the government.”

The share of New Jersey seniors now reporting that they continue to work is sharp, rising more than 66% from the March 2022 figure to settle at 33.8% as of March 2024. Delaware and Indiana are the two states that immediately followed in the rankings, rising by 37.4% and 32.2%, respectively.

In terms of declines, the highest was observed in Iowa, dropping 36.5% from a total share of 27.1% in 2022 to 17.1% in 2024. West Virginia (34.3%) and Kansas (34.0%) saw the next biggest reductions, the data found.

The overall share of those reporting themselves as “retired” also declined, according to the findings.

“Across all Americans, the share of U.S. adults who reported being retired decreased from 16.8% in March 2022 to 16.2% in March 2024,” the results said. “Overall, the retiree percentage declined in 30 states, led by New Jersey (23.0%), North Dakota (22.9%) and Connecticut (19.9%). However, Vermont, Alaska and Maine saw the biggest increases in the percentage of retirees, at 22.6%, 13.9% and 10.7%, respectively.”

The findings are driven by the financial realities faced by the cohort according to Matt Schultz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree.

“These increases could be a concerning sign that more and more older Americans are finding themselves needing extra income in their so-called golden years,” Schultz said. “Inflation could be taking a major toll on the assumptions that these people made about what they’d need to get by in retirement.”

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