The Older Workers and Retirement Chartbook
The Older Workers and Retirement Chartbook shows the risks to retirement security and disparities in retirement preparedness, and explores the links between labor market challenges facing older workers and retirement insecurity.
A joint project of EPI and the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis
Several themes emerge from our research:
The U.S. population is aging; at the same time, the labor force participation rate is increasing among older Americans. As a result of well-documented flaws in the U.S. retirement system, many older workers hope to continue working as long as possible to make ends meet. However, many face barriers to working longer and lack access to decent jobs with decent pay. Older workers who cannot afford to retire often face diminishing job quality and earnings as a result of loss of bargaining power.
The connection between work and retirement insecurity is a two-way street. Bad jobs lead to bad retirements, but retirement insecurity also forces older workers to accept bad jobs. Workers with the freedom to walk away from a bad job can negotiate better pay and working conditions with their existing or new employers, individually or as part of a union. In this way, they can strengthen the bargaining power of other workers as well.
Some workers are able to work longer to close the retirement income gap, but expecting workers to work longer is neither a fair nor a realistic solution to a broken retirement system. Some workers may benefit from delaying retirement to increase their savings and accrued benefits while shortening their retirement. But expecting workers to work into old age is neither a feasible nor an equitable solution to the retirement crisis. For one thing, the increase in life expectancy has been concentrated among higher earners with jobs that are less physically demanding. For another, Americans already work more, and longer, than workers in most peer countries.