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Employment and Wages Rise for Older Workers

Research shows that women over 55 did better at finding jobs than men their age

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En español | As the nation's economy gradually recovers from the pandemic downturn, employment of older workers was 4.4 percent higher in June than a year previously, and their wages increased, though not as much as most younger workers'. Older workers who switched jobs did better than those who stuck to their positions.

A new report from the payroll processing and benefits management firm ADP found that the year-to-year jobs increase for older workers was exceeded only by the 13.5 percent jump in hiring for those 24 and younger.

Among 25- to 34-year-olds, job growth was 1 percent, and among 35- to 54-year-olds, it was 1.1 percent.

Among people age 55 and older, women actually had more luck finding jobs than men, with a 4.9 percent year-to-year growth, compared with 4 percent for their male counterparts, according to the report. It should be noted that women experienced higher jobs losses in 2020, opening up more room for employment growth during the economic recovery.

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When it came to wage growth, though, 55-and-older workers saw an increase of just 1.7 percent year-to-year. That was better than the 0.9 percent increase for workers 24 and under, but significantly less than the 3.1 percent wage growth achieved by both the 25-to-34 and the 35-to-54 groups.

The 55-and-older workers on average earned the highest wages by a narrow margin. Their $35.14 per hour rate slightly edged out 35- to 54-year-olds ($35.04) but beat 24-and-unders ($15.99) and 25- to 34-year-olds ($26.45) by a significant margin.

Women age 55 and older saw slightly higher wage growth (1.9 percent) than did men their age (1.7 percent).

But there was a striking disparity between older men's and women's earnings. Men 55 and over earned an average $39.68 per hour; women received just $29.22. Among all age groups, ADP found that wage growth decelerated from the first quarter of 2021, while employment growth increased.

The 55-and-older workers who switched jobs saw their hourly wages go up by 4.1 percent, to $37.32, while those who stayed in their jobs earned $36.79, a 1.5 percent increase.

Patrick J. Kiger is a contributing writer for AARP. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times Magazine, GQ, Mother Jones, and websites of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

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