Thursday, November 22, 2018
Opinion

Column: A record number of folks age 85 and older are working

Although 85 is pretty old to work in America, in some ways it is the era of the very old worker.

Overall, 255,000 Americans 85 years old or older were working over the past 12 months. That’s 4.4 percent of Americans that age, up from 2.6 percent in 2006, before the recession. It’s the highest number on record.

They’re doing all sorts of jobs — crossing guards, farmers and ranchers, even truckers. Indeed, there are between 1,000 and 3,000 U.S. truckers age 85 or older, based on 2016 Census Bureau figures.

Baby boomers and their parents are working longer as life expectancies grow, retirement plans shrink, education levels rise and work becomes less physically demanding. Labor Department figures show that at every year of age above 55, U.S. residents are working or looking for work at the highest rates on record.

Some of our most prominent workers are around 85. The oldest Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is 85. Rupert Murdoch is 87. So are George Soros, Warren Buffett and Toni Morrison.

Crossing guards are relatively likely to be age 85 or above. The same goes for musicians, anyone who works in a funeral home and product demonstrators like those you might find at a warehouse club store. But while they may be elderly-friendly jobs, they’re not the top jobs for older people. By sheer numbers, the top job among the 85-plus-year-olds is farmers and ranchers.

© 2018 Washington Post

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