The next time a gray-haired worker hands you a product, sells you a service or looks back at you from the mirror, consider this:
- Increasingly, people older than age 65 are working in the U.S., and they are working into older ages.
- By 2032, nearly 30% of everyone age 65 to 74 will be in the workforce — either employed or looking for work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds.
- In comparison, back in 2002, about 20% of people in this age range were workers.
It’s a trend happening around the globe. In Japan, in fact, people age 55 and older are expected to be almost 40% of the workforce by 2031.
There are many factors behind the growing presence of seniors at work. A few: longer lifespans and lower fertility rates, the wide availability of older workers, the U.S. labor shortage and the high cost of funding retirement.
SmartAsset, a personal finance company, recently published a study of seniors in the workforce, looking at employment trends for those age 65 and older in 34 of the largest U.S. cities. It used U.S. Census Bureau data from 2021, defining “workforce” as people currently working or looking for work.
According to their findings, the following are the cities with the largest shares of seniors in the workforce.
9. Seattle, Washington
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 21.9% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 0.5%
Seattle’s population is roughly 750,000, and 12% of that are residents age 65 or older, the Census Bureau finds.
Washington state overall is aging, and certain counties are attracting more people of traditional retirement age than others.
Despite its healthy proportion of senior workers, King County — home to Seattle — is a magnet for younger workers. In fact, King is one of the youngest counties in the state, the Seattle Times reports.
8. Fort Worth, Texas
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 22.7% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 0.6%
Fort Worth has a population of about 950,000. It’s so near to Dallas (34 minutes by car) that the two cities are often evoked in the same breath.
Let’s talk about Fort Worth for now. We’ll get to Dallas in a bit.
SmartAsset ranks Fort Worth eighth in the country for its proportion of older workers. It recently enjoyed the biggest two-year growth in the senior workforce of all cities in the ranking. From 2019 to 2021, the city’s share of seniors looking for work or working rose 4.6%.
7. Denver, Colorado
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 22.9% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 1.6%
Just because plenty of Colorado residents are working, don’t assume it’s not difficult to find or keep a job in the traditional “retirement” years.
The Colorado Sun writes in 2021 about obstacles for older workers because of age discrimination among employers.
Denver’s rate of senior workforce participation is growing. It’s 2.4% higher now than two years earlier, SmartAsset says.
6. Nashville, Tennessee
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 23.1% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 1.0%
Tennessee is helping both out-of-work seniors and employers through the state’s Senior Work Experience Program.
The focus is on updating skills and boosting work-based training for people age 55 and older. Eligible seniors are those who are unemployed and have a limited family income — not over 125% of the federal poverty level.
The share of seniors in greater Nashville’s workforce grew 1.2% between 2019 and 2021. That’s more than in 22 other cities, SmartAsset says.
5. Los Angeles, California
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 23.3% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 2.4%
Los Angelinos age 65 and older rose to 23.3% of the city’s workforce in 2021, a 2.2% increase from two years before.
At the same time, L.A. is tied with Boston and Las Vegas for having the highest unemployment rates (2.4%) among job seekers of this age, SmartAsset says.
Finding a job and finding fulfilling work in older age is much easier for more-affluent workers, points out LAist, a program of 89.3 Public Radio in L.A.
The program says:
“… those who live in wealthier areas are more likely to have a job.
Nowhere is it more apparent than in Beverly Hills, where nearly 30% of people 65 and older are still employed, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s the highest senior employment rate in the state.”
Employment rates for seniors are higher in other expensive Southern California cities too. Among them: Newport Beach (24.6%), Santa Monica (24.5%) and Laguna Niguel (24.1%).
4. Houston, Texas
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 23.4% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 2.2%
In the Houston area, older workers are “the fastest-growing age group,” says Houston’s ABC Channel 13 Eyewitness News. The number of workers age 65 and over is roughly 200,000. That’s a 320% increase from 20 years ago.
Workforce Solutions, a statewide job training and career counseling program, can help older job seekers struggling with a job search or resume. Its internship program offers older workers a way to update their work experience, Channel 13 says.
3. Austin, Texas
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 25.2% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 1.0%
In Austin, low-income seniors age 55 and older can get job training and employment assistance through the state’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, affiliated with the Texas Workforce Commission. When accepted into the program, participants get job-based training, working half time for schools, nonprofit organizations or government agencies.
Austin’s robust senior workforce grew 0.5% between 2019 and 2021, SmartAsset finds. Working Austin seniors earned an average salary of $114,742 in 2021– up $9,514, on average, from 2019.
2. Washington, D.C.
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 25.9% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 1.4%
Politicians aren’t the only elders holding down jobs in the nation’s capital. Roughly 26% of the city’s seniors either are working or are job shopping.
D.C. workers age 65 and older bring home an average annual salary of nearly $145,000, according to SmartAsset.
1. Dallas, Texas
Percentage of seniors working or seeking work: 28% (as of 2021)
Senior unemployment rate: 1.7%
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of most-attractive metros for elders in Texas. SmartAsset finds that, with 28% of its seniors in the workforce, “No city has a higher percentage of people 65 and older who are still in the labor force than Dallas.” Also, unemployment for Dallas seniors is a low 1.7%.
Low housing costs are among the city’s attractions, according to U.S. News. Baylor University Medical Center and the UT Southwestern Medical Center make health care a strength for the city.
And seniors who love sports can follow the city’s seven professional home teams: the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, Dallas Jackals, FC Dallas and Dallas Wings.