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Rosalind C. Barnett, Ph.D., and Caryl Rivers – The New Productive Workforce: Seniors

Advances in medicine and efforts to prevent chronic diseases are lengthening the healthy life span of Americans. They are also helping create a new and highly productive segment of the workforce: seniors.

Women especially will benefit, since a woman turning 65 today can expect to live on average until 86.6 years. And those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year olds—male or female—will live past age 90, and one out of ten will live past age 95.

Consider these facts: Workers over 55 represent the only age group in which participation in the labor force is growing, in contrast to the steady decline among younger workers. Even more striking, there has been a tripling in the ranks of workers 65 and over, from 2 percent of the workforce in 2000 to 6 percent today.

We are part of this demographic. If someone had asked us 40 years ago if we’d still be working this hard and essentially full time after the conventional age of retirement, we’d probably have said, “Are you kidding?”

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