NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

In Search Of Older Workers

June 21, 2000

Employers once favored hiring the young and searched for ways to ease older workers into retirement. Today, however, growing numbers of companies are putting a premium on the experience, valuable contacts and maturity older workers have acquired. And the companies are often willing to pay premium salaries to attract those over 50.

The new trend is more than a reflection of the need to get good help. It is also being fueled by demographics.

  • The number of 20-to-34-year-olds in the U.S. has declined by six million over the past decade -- while the number of people over 50 has increased by 12 million.
  • In the next decade, according to the Census Bureau, the number of people over 50 will increase by 21 million more -- but the number of 20-to-34-year-olds will increase by only four million.
  • About one-third of Americans 55 and older work full time.

With Americans leading longer and healthier lives, the "over 50" stereotype is fading as corporate recruiters increasingly ask: "What is old?"

Source: Geoffrey Brewer, "Out to Pasture, Greener Pasture," New York Times, June 21, 2000.


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