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Staying Ahead of the Curve 2007: The AARP Work and Career Study

This update of a 2002 AARP national survey is the latest in a series of AARP surveys examining older workers’ experiences, opinions, and expectations regarding their work and careers. In an effort to illustrate the survey’s implications for employers, the report also presents examples of workforce practices implemented by selected employers to address the needs of an aging workforce.

The report may be downloaded in its entirety or in individual sections (all are in PDF format) below. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to open these files:

The report clearly shows that workers aged 45-74 want to stay on the job, as long as businesses and policy makers address their wants and needs. Similar to findings from previous surveys, this latest survey shows that workers aged 45-74 are motivated to work for a variety of reasons, both financial and non-financial, but immediate financial needs are the most common motivator. Key findings include:

  • When forced to name their one major reason for working, more than one-third (37%) of older workers identify “need the money.”
  • In fact, three of the five most frequently selected most important reasons for working relate to current financial need. Only one of the top five most important reasons for working is non-financial—working for enjoyment (12%).
  • Seven in ten (70%) respondents want to work in their “retirement,” and most of them indicate that they would prefer part-time options. When asked why they expect to work in retirement, they name financial reasons, such as the general need for money, as well as non-financial reasons such as the enjoyment derived from working and the desire to have something interesting to do.
  • Six in ten (60%) believe that age discrimination exists in the workplace, and 13 percent say they have personally experienced such discrimination in the past five years.
  • Approximately two-thirds (65%) are looking for better ways to balance their work and personal life.
  • When asked to identify the essential elements of their ideal job, just over nine in ten (91%) name the “chance to use your skills and talents,” and three in four (75%) name the “opportunity to learn something new.”

This telephone survey was conducted in 2007 for AARP by Synovate Inc. of Falls Church, VA. The survey’s main sample included 1,500 workers ages 45-74 who were currently working or looking for work. In addition, older Hispanic and African American workers were oversampled to represent this growing demographic. For more information about the report, please contact S. Kathi Brown of AARP’s Strategic Issues Research Department at (202) 434-6296. (175 pages)

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