Sunday, March 29, 2015

Interesting post on labor force participation at WSJ

From the Wall Street Journal:
 A survey from the Federal Reserve last week provided some clues. Around 21% of people said their plan for retirement is simply “to work as long as possible” and the number of people giving this response increases by age. 
Conversely, the traditional way to retire – working full-time in a career until ceasing work altogether – is the plan for 35% of people in their 20s. But by the time they reach their 60s, only 15% say it will be their route. 
For at least some Americans, the rise in labor force participation at old age signals that retirement is simply out of reach. Surveys from Gallup have found that people who believe they can afford to retire generally tend to do so the earliest. The wealthy businessmen or distinguished town doctors who are in good health and just enjoy their work too much to ever step aside are the exception, not the rule...
Also, an interesting comment about labor force participating amongst the late middle aged:
This chart’s downward slope shows fewer men working at every age. But, at any given age, more men are working in the year 2013 than were in 2000. At the turn of the century, for example, about 66% of 60-year-old men and 20% of 70 year old men were still in the labor force. Today, that’s risen to 72% and 25% respectively. 
The trend is also true for women. At every age, women are more likely to work than they were just 13 years ago. 
But people are still retiring. Every birthday after 55 sees fewer and fewer men and women in the labor force. The oldest Baby Boomers are now nearing 70 when 20% of women and 25% of men work. Among 55-year-old Boomers, 70% of women and 80% of men work. 
This is a very interesting trend and something I wish that the American Chemical Society would keep track of a little more than it does. We know that the Society is getting older -- what does that look like for rank-and-file industrial members? How hard has it been for them to transition to other positions? Hmmm.  


  1. There seems to be an inflection point in 2003 and now there is a downward trend, but with financial news being the way they were, I suspect it reflects a trend of people pushed out of the labor force against their will and 'not looking for work'. Thus the downward trends starting last year and that one in the 70s and 80s where retirement plans and working for just one or a few companies was common, might have different causes. :D

  2. Just another reason to avoid having children, so that I'll actually have enough saved for retirement when I'm laid off in late middle age...

    1. That's exactly the wrong conclusion to draw from current market signals, unless you presume that low inflation will persist indefinitely. More likely, sometime in the future inflation will wipe out a large amount of your savings and if a housing crash occurs a few years before your retirement and your savings were in real estate, you are DOOOOOMMMMed. Children are the best hope to live well in retirement in an uncertain economic environment as at least one of them will take care of you and you'll also be less depressed in old age. Also, not having imploding demographics is good for a country overall and brings economic stability as young people spend more than retirees. Preferably, you'll need to have an extended clan structure like in the Missile East with some members in varying Western countries so you can plan your escape just in case.

    2. That was wonderful, uncle. LOL.

      In the end, who knows whats going to happen? Just work hard and read some books before the financial/missle/whatever apocalypse, I say.

  3. The only thing ACS cares enough to track about members is who don't renew their membership.

  4. is there a "current" version of this plot available anywhere online in raw data format?

    1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is pretty good at providing downloadable data. Here's the regular non-age-adjusted version:

      You could probably dig around, find the age restricted one. If you really, really want it, you could probably e-mail BLS, ask them to do the data sort for you, maybe.