In recent years, Americans have been trying to work to older ages, many in order to ensure a secure retirement, according to a new brief from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research.
In order for this strategy to succeed, the brief noted, “it is not enough that people are willing to work — employers must also be willing to hire them on good terms.”
The brief explores what jobs employers really want older workers to do, with both positive findings and less reassuring ones.
How prevalent is the trend toward working to older ages?
A recent SimplyWise survey, conducted this summer just as the coronavirus outbreak was reigniting in the U.S., found that 72% of Americans planned to work in retirement, a five percentage point increase from three months earlier.
Those intending to work past retirement presumably included many among the 20% of survey respondents in their 60s who said they had been furloughed or lost their job because of the virus-forced lockdown.
Hiring Older Workers
Boston College researchers compared job postings on RetirementJobs.com, a website for older workers, with those on a large general jobs site for workers of all ages, CareerBuilder.com, and the federal government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which aggregates statistics on job openings.
The brief noted that although RetirementJobs.com is much smaller than other job sites, it is the only one that segments by age and thereby offers a picture of the jobs available to older workers.
Here are the job postings as of October 2019:
- RetirementJobs.com – 232,800
- Monster.com – 1,486,600
- Indeed.com – 3,684,000
- LinkedIn.com – 4,314,000
- JOLTS – 7,693,000
Twenty percent of jobs posted on RetirementJobs.com come directly from employers, meaning they have gone out of their way to advertise to older workers. The remaining 80% of listings are fed into the site by CareerBuilder.com.
Four in five jobs listed on RetirementJobs.com fall into eight Standard Occupational Classification codes, many offering relatively low pay. The three largest categories — office jobs, health-care support and sales — are often associated with older workers. These pay an average of $35,800, $22,900 and $52,400, compared with economy-wide average wage of $51,500 in 2019.
When researchers compared job postings on RetirementJobs.com to those on the large general jobs site, their analysis showed that jobs available to older workers were broadly dispersed geographically, similar to jobs available to the general population of workers.
In addition, the pay offered for jobs open to older workers tended to be better than that offered for jobs in general — the average salary for full-time work was about 15% higher than on the general jobs board. And the jobs posted on RetirementJobs.com were more likely to be full time.
At the same time, some caveats emerged in the analysis. For jobs open to older workers, postings mentioned health and retirement benefits more rarely than did the general jobs board.
Furthermore, the posted salaries for vacancies that employers proactively advertised to older workers were lower than salaries for vacancies aimed at workers more generally — and the relatively scarce mention of benefits persisted.
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