What Jobs Do Employers Want Older Workers to Do?

Sep 8, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Over the past couple of decades, Americans have been seeking to work to older ages. The current COVID-19 recession notwithstanding, a long-term trend toward later retirement has sharply increased the labor force participation rate among older individuals. However, working to older ages requires more than a willingness on the part of workers; it requires employers to hire them on terms that are worthwhile. While employers often say they are open to employing older workers, evidence of discrimination in audit studies suggests reason to worry. One question is: “What jobs do employers really want older workers to do?”

To answer this question, this brief, based on a recent paper, examines a sample of job postings from RetirementJobs.com, a national website that targets older workers. In addition to exploring the characteristics, location, and compensation of these postings, the analysis compares them to two other data sources on job openings: 1) the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the federal government’s definitive source of aggregate statistics on job openings; and 2) a large general jobs board for workers of all ages.

The results, at first blush, suggest reason for optimism. While the jobs posted on RetirementJobs.com represent a small fraction of job openings nationally, they nevertheless show the same geographic dispersion as jobs aimed at all age groups, cover a broad swath of occupations, and are likely to be full-time. They also offer higher wages than the postings on the general jobs board, although fewer of them mention health or retirement benefits.

A somewhat less positive picture emerges when looking only at the direct postings specifically targeted to older workers. These postings tend to have substantially lower average wages than those aimed at a general audience and are even less likely to mention health or retirement benefits.

You can find the full Center for Retirement Research brief here.


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