During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many seniors rethought their working or retirement arrangements, with some seniors opting to leave the workforce while other retirees chose to rejoin it. In fact, the nation’s senior labor force participation rate, perhaps surprisingly, stayed consistent between 2019 and 2021. About 19% of those over the age of 65 continued to work or were looking for work between 2019 and 2021, amid the pandemic.
Different cities saw more seniors staying in the workforce than others, however. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset set out to identify the cities where senior citizens stayed in the workforce or rejoined it throughout the pandemic. To do this, we examined labor force participation rates for the 100 cities with the largest senior populations in the U.S. For details on our data sources and how we compiled the information to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s third study on where seniors are staying in the workforce. You can find the 2021 edition here.
Dallas is the city where seniors were most likely to continue working through the COVID-19 pandemic. With 28.1% of senior citizens still working in 2021, the city had the highest senior labor force participation rate across our entire study. Dallas also posted the sixth-largest increase (3.8%) in senior labor force participation between 2019 and 2021.
2. Chesapeake, VA
Chesapeake’s senior labor force participation rate jumped 4.4% between 2019 and 2021, the fourth-largest increase among the 100 cities we analyzed. Meanwhile, 24% of Chesapeake’s seniors were still working in 2021, sixth-highest across our study.
3. Madison, WI
Wisconsin’s capital city had the seventh-highest senior labor force participation rate (23.6%) in 2021. Senior labor force participation in Madison rose 3.1% between 2019 and 2021, which ranks as the ninth-largest increase across our study.
4. Plano, TX (Tie)
Only Dallas had a higher percentage of senior citizens working in 2021 than Plano, where 26.2% of seniors were still working or available to work. Meanwhile, Plano’s senior labor force participation rate grew 2.4% from 2019 to 2021, the 17th-largest two-year increase in this study.
4. Riverside, CA (Tie)
While 22.7% of Riverside’s senior citizens were working in 2021 (18th-most), no city in our study experienced a larger two-year jump in senior labor force participation than Riverside. This Southern California city had 7.3% more seniors working in 2021 compared to two years previously.
6. Fort Worth, TX
In Texas, Fort Worth’s senior labor force participation rate climbed 4.6% between 2019 and 2021, which ranks as the third-largest two-year jump in our study. Meanwhile, 22.8% of the city’s senior population was working or available to work in 2021, 17th-highest out of the 100 cities we examined.
7. Oakland, CA
Oakland, California had the fifth-largest two-year jump in senior labor force participation from 2019 to 2021 when 4.0% more senior citizens were working or looking for work. The city’s 22.4% senior labor force participation rate is 21st-highest across our study.
8. Washington, D.C.
The District of Columbia’s 25.9% senior labor force participation rate is third-highest among the 100 cities we studied. Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of seniors who remained in the workforce grew by 1.5%, the 26th-largest increase across our study.
9. Los Angeles, CA
The City of Angels had the 11th-highest senior labor force participation rate (23.3%) in 2021. Los Angeles also ranks 20th for its two-year change in the number of seniors who continued to work between 2019 and 2021 (2.2%).
10. Denver, CO
Denver had the 16th-highest senior labor force participation rate (22.9%) in 2021, which rose 2.4% from 2019. That change also ranks as the 16th-largest increase in senior labor force participation rate among the 100 cities we examined.
Data and Methodology
To rank the cities where seniors are staying in the workforce, SmartAsset analyzed data from the 100 cities in the country with the largest senior populations. Specifically, we examined the following two factors:
We ranked each city for both metrics. We then found each city’s average ranking across the two metrics and produced a final ranking based on these averages. The city with the best average ranking places first in our study while the city with the lowest average ranking places last.
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