Occupations With the Oldest Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have pushed many older Americans into retirement. A Pew Research Center report found that there were 3.2 million more retirees in September 2020 than there had been a year before. Typically, the number of retirees grows by fewer than 2 million people per year.

The median age of the American worker in 2020 was 42.5 years old. However, there were a number of jobs in which most workers were over 50 years old. In many of these occupations, a large share of workers were 65 and older.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. identified the the occupations with the oldest workers. We ranked all 21 occupations in which most workers are 50 or older. We excluded all non-specific occupation classifications used by the BLS from consideration, specifically those jobs labeled as “all other,” a catch-all designation. Ties were broken by the share of the workforce that is 65 or older. 

The occupations with the oldest workers span all different kinds of industries and income levels. Some of the jobs on this list take years of experience and training to do properly, so their workforces would naturally skew older. In other cases, the jobs are being slowly phased out due to consumer trends or technology, so younger workers are not entering those fields.

Roughly half of the jobs on this list have a median annual earnings under $51,168, the median across all occupations. Some of these occupations pay well below that figure, which could mean that older workers have struggled to save enough money for retirement. These are the lowest paying jobs in America.

Click here to see occupations with the oldest workers

To determine the occupations with the oldest workers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on age by detailed occupation from the Current Population Survey table of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Detailed occupations were ranked based on median age for all workers 16 years and over as of 2020. Data on total employment counts also came from the CPS. Supplemental data on median annual wage either came from calculations based on median weekly earnings figures from the CPS or from median annual wage estimates from the BLS Occupational and Employment Wage Statistics program for May 2020. Data on projected employment change from 2019 to 2029, educational attainment by detailed occupation, and typical educational requirement needed for entry to each occupation came from the BLS Employment Projections program and figures are the most recent data available. 

We excluded all non-specific occupation classifications used by the BLS from consideration, specifically those jobs labeled as “all other,” a catch-all designation. Ties were broken by the share of the workforce that is 65 or older.

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