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In 2013, 8.1 million (18.7 %) Americans age 65 and over were in the labor force (working or actively seeking work), including 4.5 million men (23.5%) and 3.6 million women (14.9%). They constituted 5% of the U.S. labor force. About 5.4% were unemployed. Labor force participation of men 65+ decreased steadily from two thirds in 1900 to 15.8% in 1985; then stayed at 16%-18% until 2002; and has been increasing since then to over 20%. The participation rate for women 65+ rose slightly from 1 of 12 in 1900 to 10.8% in 1956, fell to 7.3% in 1985, was around 7%-9% from 1986 – 2002. However, beginning in 2000, labor force participation of older women has been gradually rising to the 2013 level. This increase is especially noticeable among the population aged 65-69.

Source: Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Housing Survey, National Tables: 2011.

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