NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Graying American Work Force

July 25, 1998

By 2025, the whole of America will be as old as the population of Florida -- the U.S. retirement haven. Business analysts say that prediction holds vast implications for personnel managers at American companies.

  • By 2005, the American work force will include 27 million people between the ages of 50 and 59 -- compared to 20 million in 1997.
  • The number of workers over 65 has edged up during the past decade from 3 million to 3.8 million -- and is expected to rise to 4.3 million by 2005.
  • The median age of the work force will be over 40 by 2005 -- compared to 34.7 in 1979.
  • Meanwhile, the number of workers in the 25 to 44 age group is falling.

Experts say that a few firms that rely on younger workers -- McDonald's, for example -- are already beginning to feel the pinch.

Experts say that an older work force is likely to cost more. Pay for those having seniority tends to be higher and health care benefits more costly. While people over 65 have half as many accidents as their younger and more careless colleagues, they are also more fragile and take longer to recover from an injury. As workers get older, they develop deeper roots in their communities and are less willing to be transferred.

Source: "Can America's Work Force Grow Old Gainfully?" Economist, July 25, 1998.


Browse more articles on Economic Issues