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Americans 55 and older make up slightly less than a quarter of the nation’s labor force, but they filled almost half (49 percent) of the 2.9 million jobs gained in 2018 — the biggest share of any age group.
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That’s according to an analysis of figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by TLRanalytics, a research firm that publishes the Liscio Report, a newsletter for business planners, investment firms and academics.
Older workers’ share of the jobs created exceeded that of workers in the 25-54 age group, who make up nearly two-thirds of the workforce but took just 45 percent of the jobs gained.
While some older workers are hired because of labor shortages, those 55 and older also tend to be healthier and better educated than people their age were in the past, said Philippa Dunne, a TLRanalytics analyst. “If they’re not in manual labor, they’re able to work longer,” she said, noting that 40 percent of older Americans are in management or professional roles.
Older managers are valuable to employers because they’ve got the experience and skills to guide younger, lower-paid workers, according to Dunne. She also said that workers 65 and older, who qualify for Medicare, are particularly attractive to businesses because their health insurance costs could already be covered.
Dunne projects that the employment picture for older workers will remain promising in 2019 and the years ahead. “The oldest workers’ share of the labor force is growing the fastest,” she said.
According to a report in USA Today, 39.2 percent of people 55 and older were working in December 2018, the highest level since 1961.