Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CRS Updates "Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends,"

Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends
Patrick Purcell
Specialist in Income Security
September 16, 2009

Excerpts from Summary

As the members of the “baby boom” generation—people born between 1946 and 1964—
approach retirement, the demographic profile of the U.S. workforce will undergo a substantial
shift as a large number of older workers will be joined by relatively few new entrants to the labor
force. According to the Census Bureau, there will be 204 million Americans aged 25 or older in
2010. By 2030, this number will increase by 23% to more than 251 million. Most of this growth
will occur among people aged 65 and older. The Census Bureau estimates that while the number
of people between the ages of 25 and 64 will increase by 15.5 million (9.4%) between 2010 and
2030, the number of people aged 65 and older is projected to grow by 31.7 million, or 79.2%.

As more workers reach retirement age, employers may try to induce some of them to remain on
the job, perhaps on a part-time basis. This is sometimes referred to as “phased retirement.”
Several approaches to phased retirement—job sharing, reduced work schedules, and rehiring
retired workers on a part-time or temporary basis—can be accommodated under current law. The
Pension Protection Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280) allows pension plans to begin paying benefits to
workers who have not yet separated from their employers at the earlier of age 62 or the pension
plan’s normal retirement age, which in most plans is 65. Some employers would like to be able to
pay partial pension distributions to workers who have reached the pension plan’s early retirement
age, even if it is earlier than age 62. This would require a change in federal law.

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