Older workers in Ohio and nationwide will comprise a much higher portion of the workforce in the years to come, and employers should be prepared to accommodate and benefit from the experience and range of attributes they bring to the job, according to a recent report released by Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center.
The report, “Ohio’s Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges for Ohio’s Employers,” stressed that the first wave of America’s baby boomers has already reached the front end of traditional retirement years (55 and older) and that those age 55 and older will constitute nearly 30 percent of Ohio’s overall population by the year 2020.
Accordingly, the report, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, stated that older workers (those age 55 and older) are now the most rapidly growing segment of the Ohio and U.S. workforce. As a group, they are projected to increase nationwide by 47 percent from 2006 to 2016. In Ohio, the proportion of older workers in the state’s workforce is expected to rise from 16.7 percent to 22.4 percent (an increase of 34 percent) in that same 10-year span.
Other projections from the report include:
- Two-thirds of Ohioans age 55 to 64 are expected to be in the state’s workforce in 2016.
- Roughly 20 percent of Ohioans age 65 and older are expected to be in the state’s workforce in the year 2016.
- By 2016, two-thirds of all job openings in Ohio are expected to be for positions replacing retirees.
The number of older persons in the workforce will not increase solely because of the growth in the older population, but also, the researchers noted, because a high proportion (32 percent) of older workers have not saved for retirement and only about one-third expect to have employer-based health insurance after they leave employment.
In some cases, however, older workers remain in the workforce simply because they enjoy their jobs, wish to stay active, mentally alert and/or find their work fulfilling.
The report also commented on the virtues of older employees, claiming they are considered to have a better work ethic, lower absenteeism, lower turnover, more flexibility in scheduling and more job-specific skills.
The report was authored by gerontology doctoral student Lydia Manning and Shahla Mehdizadeh, senior research scholar at Scripps and adjunct associate professor of gerontology and sociology, and produced in consultation with the Ohio Deptartment of Aging.