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Where Seniors Are Staying in the Workforce – 2021 Edition

The traditional retirement age of 65 is not a universal benchmark, especially for many older workers who are staying in the workforce beyond this age. The Social Security Administration has set the full retirement age for workers born in 1960 or later at 67. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 33.2% of workers between the ages of 65 and 74, as well as 11.8% of those 75 and older, will still be working in 2029. With all this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the cities where seniors are increasingly staying in the workforce for 2021.

To do so, we examined labor force participation rates for the 100 largest cities in the U.S. from 2014, 2018 and 2019 to see the rate of change. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s second study on where seniors are staying in the workforce. You can find the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • Only one city repeats in the top 10. Compared to last year, Port St. Lucie, Florida is the only city to rank in the top 10 again. In last year’s study, the city ranked No. 4 and had a strong one-year senior labor force participation rate (a 5.6% increase from 2017 to 2018, the second-highest uptick for this metric). This year, Port St. Lucie drops to No. 5 with a lower one-year rate, but still boasts robust growth for five-year senior labor force participation rate (a 6.2% increase from 2014 to 2019).
  • Senior labor force participation has increased in most cities. Of the 100 cities we analyzed, only 18 saw a decrease or no change in the senior labor force participation rate. This coincides with the national trend of more seniors staying in the workforce. Nationwide, the labor force participation rate for people ages 65 or older increased from 17.2% in 2014 to 18.7% in 2019.

1. Paradise, NV

Paradise ranks at the top of this study and has had the second-highest change in senior labor force participation rate, jumping 6.3% in one year and 7% in five years. The senior labor force participation rate for this city was 24.1% in 2019.

2. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans ranks second with the highest five-year change in the labor force participation rate (7.5%). The rate also jumped 5.9% in one year, the fourth-highest in this study.

3. Tucson, AZ

The senior labor force participation rate for Tucson grew 6.7% in five years up to 20.6% in 2019, the third-highest five-year increase in this study. The city also grew 6.1% in one year, ranking third for this metric as well.

4. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale’s senior labor force participation rate jumped 6.4% from 18.6% in 2014 to 25% in 2019, the fourth-highest five-year increase in this study. The city also had the 11th-highest one-year increase, at 4.3%.

5. Port St. Lucie, FL

The Port St. Lucie senior labor force participation rate jumped by 6.2% between 2015 and 2019, the fifth-highest five-year increase in this study. The rate also grew 2.6% in one year, the 18th-highest increase for that metric.

6. Buffalo, NY

Buffalo’s senior labor force participation rate jumped 4.3% from 14.8% in 2014 to 19.2% in 2019, the fifth-highest five-year increase in this study. The city’s biggest increase, however, happened between 2018 and 2019 (4.4%), the 10th-highest one-year change on the list.

7. Virginia Beach, VA

The senior labor force participation rate in Virginia Beach grew 5.4% between 2014 and 2019, the seventh-highest five-year uptick in this study. The one-year change from 2018 to 2019 was 2.6%, ranking 19th.

8. Boise, ID

The Boise labor force participation rate for seniors was 20.6% in 2019. That represents a jump of 3.7% since 2014, the 21st-highest five-year change in this study. The rate also grew 5.2% from 2018 to 2019, the sixth-highest increase for one year.

9. Pittsburgh, PA (tie)

The senior labor force participation rate in Pittsburgh grew 4.7% between 2014 and 2019. This is the 11th-highest increase over a five-year period. The Steel City also had the 17th-highest one-year change, growing 3% since 2018.

9. Mobile, AL (tie)

Mobile’s senior labor force participation rate grew 4.5% between 2014 and 2019, the 12th-highest change in this study. The rate also grew 3.1% in one year, the 16th-highest rate for this metric in the study.

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 looked at the following two factors:

  • Change in senior labor force participation rate between 2014 and 2019. Data is for residents who are 65 and older and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2014 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • Change in senior labor force participation rate between 2018 and 2019. Data is for residents who are 65 and older and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.

We ranked each city based on its increase from 2014 through 2019 and on its increase from 2018 to 2019. We then found each city’s average ranking across the two metrics. We produced a final ranking based on these averages. The city with the highest average ranking was given an index score of 100, and the lowest was given an index score of 0.

Retirement Planning Tips

  • Put your money to work. If you want to plan ahead and give yourself flexibility as you get older, consider working with a financial advisor. 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 to help you reach your financial goals, get started now.
  • Load up your tax-advantaged retirement accounts. One of the best ways to save for retirement is via a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k). Make sure you’re using one if you have access — and that you are taking advantage of any company match available to you.
  • Don’t spend beyond your means. Putting money aside for the future can be hard, as life is full of expenses. Make a budget so that you can see how you’re spending your money, and adjust so that you can save now for the future.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER

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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