Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Promoting Economic Advancement for Older Women in the Workplace
Press Release

RELEASE: Promoting Economic Advancement for Older Women in the Workplace

Washington, D.C. — Over the next decade, 42 percent of growth in the labor force will come from individuals ages 55 or older, with the most growth coming from women. A new Center for American Progress report examines the need to strengthen protections against age discrimination, enhance workforce supports, and implement a higher minimum wage to advance equity and economic opportunities for older women. 

While there have been recent gains in labor force participation for women ages 55 or older, this new CAP analysis examines the significant ways that women’s experiences in the labor market over their life course differ from men’s. The analysis finds that not only are older women five times more likely than men to have caregiving responsibilities affect their employment status, but women’s wages stagnate earlier in life than men’s. On top of women’s wages stagnating earlier in life, more than one in three older women ages 55 and older earn low wages. For older Black women, four in ten earn low wages, and older Hispanic women 52 percent earn low wages.  These lower earnings and stagnating wages translate into lower Social Security benefits and less ability to save for retirement, and it puts women at higher risk of poverty in old age. 

As the U.S. economy’s reliance on older women workers grows in the coming years, this report offers three recommendations for how to support the economic advancement of older women. These recommendations include strengthening age discrimination protections, improving and supporting workforce development efforts, and raising the federal minimum wage.

“Older women’s economic prospects should not be constrained by an arbitrary expiration date. Policymakers must take action to strengthen protections against age discrimination, modernize workforce training programs, and raise the minimum wage so that older women can continue to grow and advance in the U.S. economy,” said Beth Almeida, senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the report.

“As our reliance on older women’s participation in the labor force grows, we must ensure that they have the tools and protections to thrive in the economy. Investing in workforce training programs, raising the minimum wage, and strengthening protections for older workers are crucial steps to promoting the advancement of older women in our economy now and for years to come,” said Christian Weller, senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the report. 

Read the report: Promoting Economic Advancement for Older Women in the Workplace” by Beth Almeida and Christian Weller 

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at snadeau@americanprogress.org.

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