Some people continue working late in life because they find their jobs rewarding. That’s fine. Me, I have a hard time imagining my life without teaching and writing. (As for many other aspects of my job, well, they can shove them.)
But it’s different when people continue to be forced to have the freedom to work in old age for other reasons—because they have more debt, less savings, and no pensions compared to workers of previous generations.
As it turns out, that’s what’s happening to many older Americans, especially women:
In 1992, one in 12 women worked past age 65. That number is now around one in seven. By 2024, it will grow to almost one in five, or about 6.3 million workers, according to Labor Department projections. . .
From the end of World War II to the 1980s, the share of older Americans in the workforce fell every year. That reversed by the mid-1990s, as companies shifted from traditional pension plans—which paid fixed benefits at specific retirement ages—to 401(k) savings plans, which transferred the responsibility of funding retirement to employees.
The past recession made things worse, forcing many workers out of jobs before they could afford to retire. While older workers were less likely to lose their jobs in the recession than younger workers, the older workers who did, particularly women, were hit hardest, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. . .
Older men and women are leaving the workforce more slowly than in the past, suggesting a greater potential labor supply—and more slack—than an unemployment rate below 5% would typically imply. Such economic slack must be cinched—by finding jobs for discouraged younger workers, for example—before wages can rise more broadly.