Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Five Facts on Older Women in the Labor Market 
Press Release

RELEASE: Five Facts on Older Women in the Labor Market 

Washington, D.C — After facing near record low labor market participation rates just three years ago, older women’s labor market participation rate is soaring to near record highs. A new CAP factsheet breaks down five key facts about how older women are faring in today’s labor market. 

Right now, more than 1 in 10 workers today is a woman aged 55 or older. The growing number of older women participating in our labor force is strengthening older women’s economic security; lowering the risk of experiencing poverty and material hardships; and boosting both their retirement savings and Social Security benefits. This CAP factsheet paints a picture of how older women are doing in today’s economy and the critical importance of their participation in the U.S. labor force. Some key facts about older women in today’s labor market include: 

  1. Over the past two decades, older women have become a large and growing share of the labor force. The growing labor force participation rate has helped strengthen older women’s economic security helping lower the risk of experiencing poverty and material hardships. 
  2. Older women’s labor market engagement suffered during the first few months of the pandemic but is recovering thanks to Biden administration policies. The American Rescue Plan Act expanded unemployment insurance benefits and, for the first time ever, expanded access to the earned income tax credit for childless workers aged 65 and older, helping to create the foundations for today’s strong economy. 
  3. Workforce projections point to continued growth in older women’s employment. Estimates show that older women will make up 60 percent of labor force participation growth between 2020 and 2030, more than double the amount of jobs growth projected for older men. 
  4. Despite employment gains, older women experience larger gender wage gaps. Older women on average make 75 cents for each dollar earned by full-time older men.
  5. Older women face unique challenges in maintaining labor force attachment. Too often women will be forced to leave the labor market in order to care for a loved one. In fact, 1 in 5 women aged 55 to 64 who were not in the labor force were absent because they were taking care of others. 

“Older women’s booming participation in today’s labor market strengthens their economic security. As the labor market continues to grow and depend on older women, it’s crucial that policymakers prioritize the needs of older women and the obstacles they face from caregiving to health concerns to ensure older women can stay in the labor market until they are ready to make the decision themselves to retire,” said Beth Almeida, senior fellow for the Women’s Initiative and co-author of the factsheet. 

“To keep our economy strong , we cannot afford to take older women and their economic contributions to our economy for granted. Supporting their needs will set up our economy for success now and in the future,” said Sara Estep, associate director for the Women’s Initiative and co-author of the factsheet. 

Read the factsheet: “Five Facts on Older Women in the Labor Market” by Beth Almeida and Sara Estep 

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at [email protected]

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