Are Older US Workers Poised for a Comeback in the Labor Market?

Despite international trends, the long-running uptrend of the labor force aged 55-64 has slowed.

Other advanced industrial nations have seen a growing labor market as the older generation has begun to trend towards later retirements. While it is not perfectly clear why Americans aren’t following this trend, economists at the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. say it’s due to aftershocks of deep job losses during the Great Recession.

Despite this, one economist believes that the later-retirement trend in the US is inevitable – drop in participation among older Americans notwithstanding. Analysis of the relationship between unemployment and participation revealed that participation among US men in this age group is a few points lower than the current unemployment, which means there is space for growth.

Contrary opinions don’t anticipate a change in the trend unless there is a major change in the country’s economy. “Economic conditions haven’t improved so much that it is easy for workers to easily get a well-paid job,”stated Craig Copeland, of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “It will likely stay at its current trend unless there is a significant downturn in the economy or a major up-turn, drawing back experienced workers.”

Factors that are unique to the US are also critical in reducing older-worker involvement. Factors that may go unconsidered by the Goldman analysis, and are unlikely to go away anytime soon.