The Top Job Markets for Retirees

The Retirement Tsunami That Never Arrived

For years, analysts warned of an impending “retirement tsunami.” The fear was that a huge cohort of baby boomers would retire, leading to brain drain and workforce shortages, particularly in Federal and state government agencies

Years later, the tsunami still hasn’t arrived–and it probably never will. Older Americans are working in greater numbers than ever before. Some are delaying retirement. Others are retiring partially instead of fully. And still others are “unretiring” after giving retirement a try and realizing they prefer work. 

Older Americans are Working in Greater Numbers than Ever Before

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.8% of Americans aged 65 and over are working as of July 2019, up from 11.9% 20 years earlier (see chart below), as are 63.5% of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64, up from 57.2%.  

In ZipRecruiter’s online marketplace, we are seeing larger shares of older job seekers than ever before. More than three in ten respondents in each of our recent job seeker surveys have been aged 55 or over, with about 8% above 65. 

Employers are Recruiting Older Workers across Industries 

Data from the ZipRecruiter marketplace also show that employers are increasingly appealing to retirees in recruitment, using phrases in job postings like: “Perfect for a retiree!” So far in 2019, the share of postings with language inviting retirees to apply has been 12% higher than in 2018. To make positions more attractive to older workers, companies are offering flexible schedules or work-from-home opportunities.  

Transitioning Back to the Workforce Remains Challenging

Despite the increasing openness of employers to hiring older candidates, it can be challenging for retirees to transition back to the workforce. Many displaced workers who lost their jobs due to the Great Recession or to contractions in their industries are still traumatized by the experience. Others are intimidated by the prospect of reentering an economy transformed by new technologies. Many face ageism during the hiring process and beyond. 

Which Industries, Occupations and Cities have the Most Retiree-Friendly Job Postings?

And not all job markets are equally retiree-friendly. We analyzed jobs posted on ZipRecruiter between January and August 2019 to find the best industries, job titles and cities for retirees, based on the volume of postings that explicitly call on retirees to apply.

Source: ZipRecruiter internal data, January – August 2019

While aging populations and tightening labor markets are the broad forces pushing employers to recruit older workers, each of the most retiree-friendly metros is responding to a unique set of factors. 

For example, the fact that the Washington, D.C. area leads the pack likely has a lot to do with the fact that many military personnel and federal employees are eligible for retirement after just 20 years of service or at the age of 57. These young retirees are many of the most experienced and highly educated professionals in their fields, so it makes sense that agencies are taking steps to recruit or retain them long past retirement eligibility. The result is a rapidly aging federal workforce in the District of Columbia.

New York’s second-place spot reflects the fact that over the past decade, the number of New Yorkers aged 65 and over increased by 26%, while the state’s overall population grew by just 3%. Increasingly, employers are tapping into this growing talent pool of older workers. 

Colorado Springs is in third place. The state of Colorado was recently named the best state for aging, according to rankings prepared by U.S. News, partly because its older population is one of the healthiest and most physically active. Colorado also has a below-average unemployment rate of just 2.9%. For employers who are struggling to fill vacancies, luring active older Americans off the sidelines and back into the workforce is an obvious recruitment strategy.  

Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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