Oregon Employment Department Reports Rapid Expansion of Workers Aged 65+

  The number of workers in Oregon over the age of 65 has quadrupled since the 1990s, according to a report from the Oregon Employment Department.  

Written by Workforce Analyst Henry Fields, the report was released on November 21. According to Fields, the 65 and older bracket made up two percent of Oregon’s workforce in 1992, totaling roughly 30,000 people. By 2018, that had risen to seven percent, or 124,000 people.  

Predictably, the amounts vary by region. Older workers represent over 10 percent of the labor pool in rural counties, and only 6 percent in metropolitan areas.  

Fields also stated that the rate of employment among older people has gone from 10 percent to 20 percent over the past two decades, meaning one in five are participating in the workforce.  

As for the cause, Fields offers two explanations. The first is that more people simply choose to continue working, thanks to good health and less physically-demanding jobs. Seeing as common professions for the over 60 set include real estate and logging, this theory is neither confirmed nor denied.  

The second reason is less optimistic: retirement income is no longer enough to live on. The report states that, “Nationally, people in the bottom half of the income distribution are likely not to have any retirement savings, with Social Security often replacing only about 40 to 50 percent of pre-retirement income. Increasing housing and health care costs in many areas of Oregon are likely to create money pressures among the aging population that could keep them in the labor market.”  

By Brandon Urey