Michele Meagher, age 66, appreciates the way she's treated as an older worker by her employer, Tufts Health Plan, a nonprofit health insurance organization in Watertown, Massachusetts.
A corporate communications specialist, she was hired when she was 61. She's able to telecommute three days a week. She participates in a weekly "Fit Over 60" exercise class at the office. Her employer has allowed her to take classes to learn new skills. Meagher said that when she previously worked at a high-tech public relations firm, she was one of the oldest workers. But at Tufts "I see me everywhere. I'm not a minority," she said.
Indeed, Meagher is part of a fast-growing segment of those remaining in the workplace well into their golden years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and over is just 3.2 percent as of February 2018. That's lower than the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent for the entire U.S. population and a steep 14.4 percent for teens. Now, as the job market lurches back to life while the demographic of aging workers grows, companies in all types of industries — from banking and health care to insurance — are wooing the silver set with a variety of programs.
Two decades ago less than a third of people ages 55 and over were employed or looking for work. Today the share is 40 percent, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, up 10 percent from 1990. "There are a lot of those ages 55 to 70, and each of them is more likely to work now than in previous generations," said Matt Rutledge, a research economist for The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.