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seniors increasingly staying in the workforceHaving sufficient savings is imperative as a person enters retirement and leaves the workforce behind. But several factors – including a delayed start to saving, the increasing cost of living, a decrease in the number of people with traditional pensions and now the economic downturn precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic – may make seniors consider returning to the workforce in order to supplement whatever retirement income they might already have. Will they be joining plenty of peers in their area who are working in old age as part of their financial plan? SmartAsset analyzed the data to find where seniors are increasingly staying in the workforce the most.

To find the cities where seniors are staying in the workforce more, we looked at the increase in senior labor force participation rate during both the five-year period from 2014 through 2018 and the one-year period between 2017 and 2018. For details on our data sources and how we put the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Senior labor force participation rates have increased even more in recent years. In four of the cities in our top 10, the increase in the senior labor force participation rate from 2017 to 2018 exceeds the increase from 2014 to 2018. These cities are Orlando, Florida; Lincoln, Nebraska; Port St. Lucie, Florida and Denver, Colorado.
  • Northeast not a popular region for working seniors. Four of the top 10 cities where seniors are increasingly staying in the workforce are in Western states, three are in Southern states and three are in Midwestern states. No Northeastern cities rank in the top 10.

1. Orlando, FL

In 2014, the senior labor force participation rate in Orlando, Florida was 18%. By 2017, it had decreased to about 16%, but by 2018 it increased up to almost 25%, reflecting a five-year increase of almost seven percentage points and a one-year increase of almost nine percentage points, the second-highest and highest increases in the study, respectively.

2. Lincoln, NE (tie)

Lincoln, Nebraska ties with Glendale, Arizona for the No. 2 spot. The city had a 20.9% senior labor force participation rate, which dropped slightly to 20.5% in 2017. By 2018, however, it was 24.9%. This five-year increase of 4.0 percentage points is seventh-highest in our study, while the one-year increase of 4.4% is fourth-highest.

2. Glendale, AZ (tie)

Tied with Lincoln, Nebraska as the No. 2 city in our rankings on where seniors are increasingly staying in the workforce, Glendale, Arizona had a 2014 senior labor force participation rate of 17.1%. This rate rose to 17.5% in 2017 and 21.5% in 2018. The increase from 2014 through 2018 was 4.4%, and from 2017 to 2018, it was 4.0%, the fifth- and sixth-highest rates for these metrics, respectively.

4. Port St. Lucie, FL

Port St. Lucie is the second Florida city in the top 10. The city’s senior labor force participation rate in 2018 was 15.8%, up from 12.2% in 2014 and 10.2% in 2017. Port St. Lucie ranks 13th out of all 100 cities we considered for its high five-year increase in senior labor force participation rate – at 3.6% – and ranks second overall for its high one-year increase in this rate, at 5.6%.

5. Honolulu, HI (tie)

Honolulu, Hawaii ties with Chesapeake, Virginia for the No. 5 spot in our study. Honolulu’s 2014 senior labor force participation rate was 19.2%. In 2017 it was 20.9%, and in 2018, it was 23.5%. That means the city’s five-year increase in this rate was 4.3%, the sixth-highest figure for this metric across all 100 cities in the study. Furthermore, Honolulu’s one-year (2017 to 2018) increase in its senior labor force participation rate was 2.6%, the 17th-highest figure for this metric across the 100 cities in the U.S. with the highest senior populations.

5. Chesapeake, VA (tie)

Chesapeake, Virginia ties with Honolulu, Hawaii for fifth place. The senior labor force participation rate for seniors in Chesapeake was 21.1% in 2018. That rate is up from 18.4% in 2017, resulting in a one-year jump of 2.6%, the 15th-highest rate for this metric in the study. The long-term change is higher. In 2014 the senior labor force participation rate in Chesapeake was 17.1%, making the five-year increase eighth-highest, at 3.9%.

7. Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs, Colorado had the fourth-highest increase in senior labor force participation rate in the five-year period from 2014-2018 – a 4.6 percentage point increase from 14.9% to 19.5%. The rate in 2017 was 17.1%, meaning the one-year increase in Colorado Springs was 2.4 percentage points, ranking 20th-highest overall.

8. Denver, CO

The second consecutive Colorado city on this list is Denver, where the senior labor force participation rate was 19.3% in 2014. By 2017 it dropped to 18.9%, but in 2018 it increased to 22.2%. This results in a five-year uptick of 2.9%, the 19th-highest rate for this metric in the study. The one-year increase was 3.3%, ranking eighth-highest.

9. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis, Indiana had a senior labor force participation rate of 21.4% in 2018. That marked an increase of 2.4 percentage points from 19.0% in 2017 and an increase of 3.9 percentage points from 17.5% in 2014. Those increases ranked 19th-highest and ninth-highest in the study, respectively.

10. Kansas City, MO

In the five-year period from 2014 through 2018, the labor force participation rate for seniors in Kansas City, Missouri increased by 3.8 percentage points, from 17.6% to 21.4%, the 11th-highest rate for this metric across all 100 cities in our study. In 2017, the participation rate was 18.9%, making the one-year increase 2.5 percentage points, 18th-highest in the study.

Data and Methodology

To find the cities where seniors are increasingly staying in the workforce, we analyzed data on the 100 U.S. cities with the largest senior populations across the following metrics:

  • Change in senior labor force participation rate between 2014 and 2018. Data is for residents who are 65 and older and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2014 and 2018 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • Change in senior labor force participation rate between 2017 and 2018. Data is for residents who are 65 and older and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 and 2018 1-year American Community Surveys.

First, we ranked each city in both metrics. We then found the average ranking for each city, assigning each metric an equal weight. We then used this average ranking to determine our final score. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Managing Your Money

  • Start saving for retirement now. One of the best ways to save for retirement is with a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k). Use SmartAsset’s free 401(k) calculator to see what your savings will look like and how you can boost your retirement savings now.
  • Reassess your budget if possible. You can prepare for the unknown by having an emergency fund. Though financial advisors typically recommend you should have savings that can cover at least three months’ worth of expenses, six months’ worth may be a better figure to shoot for during a recession. Use SmartAsset’s budget calculator to see how the coronavirus stimulus payments (if you’re eligible) could fit into your spending plan and how cutting back on discretionary expenses can increase your savings rate.
  • If you did lose your job, find out if you qualify for unemployment. Many unemployment benefits across states have been expanded as a result of the spread of coronavirus. Our guide on enhanced unemployment benefits during the coronavirus crisis can help you figure out if you may be eligible for receiving unemployment benefits that can help you cover your expenses long-term when you don’t have a regular income. If you are looking for more general information on the coronavirus and what the government is doing to help, check out our comprehensive guide here.
  • Invest in expert advice. A financial advisor can help you make the most of your money while you are working. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com      

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/RainStar

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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