Non-Retiring Retirees Fastest-Growing Job Market Sector

New research finds that the number of Americans working into their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s is at a record high.

Despite fierce competition by Baby Boomers, the number of Americans working into their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s is at a record high, according to news analysis of federal employment data released by New York-based global outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Sept. 20.

The surge in percentage of employed "retirees" will only continue, according to predictions, as the Baby Boomer generation heads towards retirement age, but doesnt plan to retire.

Seventy percent of Baby Boomers plan to stay in the workplace beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, according to research, as employers embrace older workers and job seekers more than ever.

In August, the number of workers over 55 reached its highest level ever recorded, 24.6 million. Approximately 25 percent of this group (5.2 million) was 65 and older, 45 percent more than 10 years prior.

The number of older workers is growing faster than any other age group, according to Challengers research.

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Employment among workers ages 55 and older grew 10.5 percent between 2003 and 2005, and at the same rate for workers 65 and older.

The growth rate among 45 to 54 year olds, at 4.1 percent, was less than half. Among 35 to 44 year olds, employment fell 0.07 percent in the same period.

"The greatest misperception about older workers was that the diminishing health that accompanies aging would be too costly in terms of increased absenteeism and higher health insurance costs.

"However, todays seniors are much healthier. Many employers have probably found that older workers take no more sick days than their younger counterparts," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement.

Job seekers ages 50 and above arent just storming the workplace, theyre getting jobs faster than they used to, according to research.

The median job search time for those 50 and older was virtually equal to that of younger job seekers.

"In 1948, one in four 65-year-olds was employed. That percentage steadily fell to a low of 10 percent in the mid-1980s. The percentage of working retirees has been on the rise since the mid-1990s, and it may not be long until we are back to the 25 percent level not seen since 1951," said Challenger.

The number of age discrimination suits filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was down 7 percent between 2004 and 2005.

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