People who are still working when they are near or past traditional retirement age are now earning significantly more per hour, on average, than workers who are in their prime working years, according to a new analysis of government data.
That's a major shift from the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Brookings Institution analysis.
Experts say that's partly because people who keep working past age 60 tend to be better educated, in better health and—most likely—in jobs that are going well. But it's also partly because prime-age workers have had such a tough time of it since the nation went into recession in 2007.
"They all look like they're doing pretty well because the younger people are doing relatively more poorly," said Gary Burtless, a labor economist with the Brookings Institution and the author of the analysis.
(Read More: Some Older Americans Falling Short Financially)
The report, which was funded by the Social Security Administration, found that 60- to 74-year-old men who were still working earned $25.12 an hour, on average, in 2011. That's over 20 percent more than the average hourly wage of working men 25 to 59, which was $20.55 an hour in 2011.
Working women ages 60 to 74 earned an average of $18.51 an hour in 2011, nearly 10 percent more than the average hourly wage of $16.87 for 25- to 59-year-old women.
The big disparity is a change from the past. In the 1980s and 1990s, the average older men's hourly wages were about the same as younger workers' wages, and older women earned a bit less per hour, on average, than younger women.
(Read More: Average US Retirement Age Is 61 - And Rising)
Then, between 2007 and 2010, older workers' average hourly wages saw a significant bump, while young workers' average hourly wages largely stagnated, according to the Brookings analysis.