Older Adults
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Many of Ohio's older adults are actively engaged in the workforce

September 16, 2019
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Earlier this summer, the Associated Press released a poll that showed 1 in 4 Americans do not plan to retire. This got me thinking about what older adults in Ohio are thinking about their own employment. Fortunately, we have some data about this very issue handy to look at. In the past four years, The Center for Community Solutions engaged with three different communities to assess the needs of older adults; Summit County, Columbus and Cleveland. In each community we conducted a needs assessment that involved surveying older adults. Among many other topics, each of the surveys asked older adults a series of questions about their employment status and the experiences they have encountered while looking for work.

Close to half of older adults in two major urban centers, Cleveland and Columbus, are either currently employed or actively looking for employment.

Close to half of older adults in two major urban centers, Cleveland and Columbus, are either currently employed or actively looking for employment. In Summit County, 30 percent of older adults are employed or actively looking for employment. It is likely that those who have had lower incomes throughout their lives have more of a need to work later in life.

In Summit County, 29.2 percent of those aged 60 and older report they are either engaged in the workforce or actively looking for work. Summit County includes both urban and suburban areas and there is a wide range of educational attainment and incomes among the older adult population. The survey respondents in Summit County are adults older than age 60, including those well into their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond.

While the Summit County data includes both those in their 60s as well as much older adults, we are able to drill down by age for the Cleveland and Columbus data sets. Within these two cities, we can look at the workforce engagement for the age range that is typically the time in life when people choose to retire, between ages 60 and 74. In Cleveland, almost half of older adults between the ages for 60 and 74 are actively engaged in the work force, either fully employed, working part-time, are self-employed or seeking work. In Cleveland, of the older adults who are currently employed, 49 percent will work as long as they can due to financial reasons and 32 percent would like to retire but cannot afford to stop working.

In Cleveland, of the older adults who are currently employed, 49 percent will work as long as they can due to financial reasons and 32 percent would like to retire but cannot afford to stop working.

A slightly lower percentage of older adults in Columbus continue to work through the retirement age range of 60 and 74, with 46 percent either actively working or looking for work. Twelve percent of this cohort is actively seeking work. According to our Columbus survey results, a large number of older adults who are seeking work report barriers to employment including age discrimination, skills deficits and health issues. Forty-seven percent of the survey-takers who are actively looking for employment reported they believed employers were not interested in hiring them because of their age. Thirty-four percent of the same group said available jobs do not match their skill set and 18 percent reported struggling with technology in the workplace.

Forty-seven percent of the survey-takers who are actively looking for employment reported they believed employers were not interested in hiring them because of their age.

Because so many older adults continue to be actively engaged in the workforce, a number of programs have been developed to assist older adults who are seeking employment reduce reported barriers through training and job placement. The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) matches low-income adults aged 55 and over with nonprofit organizations to receive on-the-job training while earning minimum wage. Encore fellowships can be another option for older adults who are not ready to leave the job market. These types of fellowships typically pair skilled professionals who have retired from their careers and are looking to have an impact in the social sector with nonprofit organizations. They typically receive a modest stipend during their fellowship. As older adults continue to remain in the workforce, whether by choice or financial necessity, communities who can find ways to harness their experiences, skills and maturity will reap the benefit of a multi-generational workforce in which employees of all ages can learn from each other. Annually, the United States Department of Labor recognizes the last week in September as National Employ Older Workers Week. Join the twitter conversation about older workers with the hashtag #NEOWW.

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