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Women's Bureau
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Older Women Workers, ages 55 and over

 Population and Labor Force

  • There were 34.9 million women aged 55 and over in the U.S. in 2004. This represented 55 percent of persons in this age group.
  • Of those 34.9 million women, 10.7 million were in the labor force (working or looking for work).
  • Labor force participation rates for women over 55 years of age continue to increase. Their labor force participation rate was 24.0 percent in 1994, 25.6 percent in 1999, as compared with 30.5 percent in 2004.
  • Women aged 55 and over accounted for 15.6 percent of the total female labor force and in 2004. They also made up 46 percent of the total 55 and over labor force (men and women).

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, January 2005.

Employment  

  • There were 10.3 million employed women aged 55 and over in the U.S. in 2004.  
  • These women were most frequently employed in management, professional and related occupations (3.9 million) and sales and office occupations (3.8 million).
  • The remainder were employed in service occupations (1.8 million); production, transportation, and material moving occupations (674,000); and natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (78,000).
  • The 10 leading occupations for women aged 55 and over in 2004 were secretaries and administrative assistants (720,000); elementary and middle school teachers (371,000); registered nurses (353,000); bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks (339,000); nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (251,000); cashiers (240,000); maids and housekeeping cleaners (230,000); first-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers (228,000); managers, all other (207,000); and first-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers (204,000).

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, January 2005.

Retirement, Pensions, and Income

  • The estimated age at retirement for women, 1995-2000 was 61.4 years of age. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, October 2001: “Retirement age declines again in 1990s.”
  • Of the 60 million wage and salaried women working in June 2002, just 47 percent participated in a retirement plan. Remember, even small amounts can earn interest and add up over time. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/Publications/women.html
  • On average a female retiring at age 55 can expect to live another 27½ years. Savings can increase a woman's chances of having enough money to last during her retirement. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/Publications/women.html
  • Fewer women than men receive pensions when they retire with only 28.5 percent of all women today age 65 and older receiving pension income. Source: American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) report citing to the Bureau of the Census, March 24, 2005.
  • Women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't quality for a retirement plan. And working women are more likely than men to interrupt their careers to take care of family members; they work fewer years and contribute less toward their retirement. If you work and if you qualify, join a retirement plan now. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/Publications/women.html
  • By and large, women invest more conservatively than men and receive lower rates of return from their investments over time. Choose carefully where you put your money and learn how to make your investments grow. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/Publications/women.html
  • In 2004, the median income for women age 55 to 64 was $20,810; for women age 65 and over, it was $12,080. The corresponding figures for men in these age groups are nearly twice as high--$39,212 and $21,102, respectively. Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032005/perinc/new01_010.htm