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A Profile of Older Americans: 2012


In 2012, 7.7 million (18.5%) Americans age 65 and over were in the labor force (working or actively seeking work), including 4.3 million men (23.6%) and 3.4 million women (14.4%). They constituted 5% of the U.S. labor force. About 6.2% were unemployed. Labor force participation of men 65+ decreased steadily from 2 of 3 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 2012 level. This increase is especially noticeable among the population aged 65-69.

(Based on online data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, Labor Force Statistics.)

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