Older workers a big part of Tri-Cities workforce and their ranks are growing

More than one-in-three local workers are 55 years old and older.

The next time you shop for groceries, pick up something at Walmart or grab lunch at almost any Tri-Cities fast-food restaurant count the number of workers who are in the 50 years-old. That’s right there’s a lot of them. And their ranks are increasing.

An analysis of Labor Department data by Liscio, a research publication for investors, said Americans 55 and over made up about half of all employment gains in 2018. When you consider that age group makes up about a quarter of last year’s labor force, it’s a signal a big demographic shift is taking place.

The most current Census data on work status shows almost half (41.8%) of the Tri-Cities population in the labor force age range were 55 or older. Of that group, 33.2% worked during 2017 – 61.6% of them full-time, and 38.9% part-time. That means 58,508 workers – a little more than one-in-three of all workers were 55 and older in 2017.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Liscio’s analysis. It said 39.2% of the 55+ population were working, the largest portion since 1961. The Tri-Cities had almost that share a year before the Liscio’s study. And since the local demographic is older look for it to lead some of the future studies on how Baby Boomers are changing the face of retirement, work, and the economy.

Another way to look at it is the Baby Boom generation has dramatically changed everything it touched since their parents brought them home from the hospital and began changing diapers. They may not make up the largest share of the total demographic anymore, but they will continue to shake things up.

Many of the older workers get a part-time job to supplement their Social Security and take some strain off their retirement savings. Others have little or no savings and rely on their jobs for a pay-check-to-pay-check retirement. And talk to anyone in that age group who has looked for a job or many of those who work in worker placement and they’ll tell you age discrimination is very much alive in the Tri-Cities.

Here’s another consideration of where the Tri-Cities stands and where we’re heading consider this: Moody’s rating agency says 13 countries will reach super-aged status in 2020. That simply means one-in-five of the population will be 65 or older.

Next year 22.2% (a little more than one-in-four) Tri-Cities residents will be 65 and older.  We’re well on the road to becoming a super-aged region.







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