Are Older Workers Hindering the Younger Generation?

By | June 17, 2019

Is it a bad thing that a larger number of older Americans continue to work past the age of 65? Well some younger Americans think so.

A recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that workers under the age of 50 were significantly more likely to view America’s aging workforce as a negative development when compared with their older counterparts. About 4 in 10 respondents ages 18 to 49 and 44% of the youngest respondents ages 18 to 29 said they consider the trend to be a bad thing for American workers. Just 14% of those age 60 and over said the same.

An aging population, elevated health care costs and lingering financial uncertainty following the Great Recession all are believed to be contributing to America’s steadily graying workforce. Nearly 20% of Americans over the age of 65 were employed or actively looking for work last year, up from less than 12% two decades prior, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Older workers also face added discrimination. Some 58% of Americans age 50 and older say older workers face discrimination in the workplace, and 75% consider their own age to be a detriment when looking for a job, according to the survey.

Nearly 20% of Americans over the age of 65 were employed or actively looking for work last year

“As more and more workers in the United States continue to put off retiring past the traditional age of 65, they report feeling the consequences of age bias in both their current positions and as they look for jobs,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “What’s interesting is at the same time, 45 percent of Americans say the trend of working longer is beneficial to the national economy, and 39 percent say it’s good for workers in general.”

Other findings:

  • Women age 50 and older are especially inclined to regard their age as a hindrance when job seeking. 79% of women and 70 percent of men age 50 and older say their age hampers their job search.
  • While about half of all adults say older workers frequently face age discrimination at work, only about a fifth say younger workers experience age discrimination.
  • Younger workers are more likely to request accommodations like flextime or working remotely than are older workers. 54% percent of workers under age 50 have requested flexible hours. Working women age 18 to 29 are most likely to ask for flextime.
  • 33% of all workers say the working longer trend is good for their career, and 46% regard it as a positive for their workplace culture.
  • 53% of Americans age 50 and older say that people staying in the workforce past 65 is a plus for the national economy, and 50% say it is good for American workers in general. Younger Americans are less positive about this trend: 38% consider it good for the economy, and 30% say it is good for American workers.

This survey, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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