Older Workforce in Clackamas County and Retirement Trends in America

by Lynn Wallis

June 1, 2021

The number and share of older workers in Clackamas County has been growing over time. Since 2015, the number of older workers has grown by 4,553 or by 1.3%. There are now nearly one in four workers in the county who are 55 years and older.
Industries Employing the Older Workforce in Clackamas County

In the second quarter of 2020, the 55 age and older workers made up nearly on quarter of the workforce (24.7%) in Clackamas County with 40,429 workers. The industries with the largest share of older workers included mining (38.7%), agriculture (34.8%), utilities (31.3%), and transportation and warehousing (30.4%).

Not all of these industries with the largest share of workers employed a large number of workers, though. The industries with the largest number of workers were in healthcare and social assistance (5,562), manufacturing (5,168), retail trade (4,163), construction (3,460), and private educational services (3,179).
Projected Population Growth in Clackamas County

Within the next decade (2020-2030), the older segment of the population in Clackamas County is projected to increase at a much faster pace than the rest of the population. The youngest segment of the population, 0-19 years, is expected to increase by only 1,400 or by 1.4 % while the middle working-age population (20-59) is expected to grow by 17,997 or by 8.7% in the next decade. The segment of the population who are 60-69 years and approaching retirement are actually expected to decline in numbers during the next decade by -2,045 or -3.7%.

The oldest age groups are expected to have significant population growth during the next decade compared to the younger age groups. The population aged 70-79 years is expected to increase by 12,201 or by 33.4% and the 80+ year old population is expected to increase by 13,247 or by 72.3%.
Changing Landscape for Older Workers and Retirement in America

The changing landscape of retirement may be causing a significant portion of older Americans to push back their retirement dates or to re-enter the labor force. Not only are Americans living longer but they are also working longer into their retirement years. According to a recent Post-2020 Retirement Survey conducted by the American Advisors Group (AAG), seniors are working later in life and the uncertainty created by the events of 2020 have accelerated the trend to make ends meet. According to the Post 2020 Retirement Survey:

Nearly one-third of seniors stated that 2020 had a negative impact on their retirement plans.

More than 1 in 5 seniors said 2020 caused them to withdraw additional money form one or more retirement accounts.

Forty-six percent of respondents indicated that they plan on working part-time or picking up a side job during their retirement years.

Nearly 1 in 5 seniors responded that they now plan to work past age 70 and an additional 12% indicated they plan to work full time for the rest of their lives.

Another survey from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) was conducted by Greenwald Research in December 2020 Retirement Insecurity 2021, Americans’ Views of Retirement. This survey was carried out to help understand Americans’ views of the shifting retirement landscape. A total of 1,203 individuals, aged 25 and older, completed the survey. The key research findings are as follows:

More than half of Americans (51%) say that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased concerns about their ability to achieve financial security in retirement. Sixty-seven percent say that because of COVID-19, they plan to retire later than originally planned.

More than two-thirds of Americans (67%) say the nation faces a retirement crisis and more than half (56%) are concerned that they will not be able to achieve a financially secure retirement.

Americans across party lines have a positive sentiment about pension plans and support making these retirement plans more available to workers. The vast majority of Americans (79%) agree that Social Security should remain a priority of the nation no matter the state of the budget deficits.

Sixty-six percent of Americans have a favorable view of defined benefit pensions. Seventy-five percent say that all workers should have access to a pension plan so they can be independent and self-reliant in retirement. Sixty-five percent agree that pensions are better than 401(k) accounts for providing retirement security.

What Lies Ahead

Within the next decade, the population in Clackamas County is projected to increase by 42,700 or by 10.2%. Over half (59.5%) of this population growth is expected to occur among the population who are 70 years and older while the population 19 years or younger is expected to grow minimally at 1.4% adding 1,399 people.

The share of older workers (55+) in Clackamas County has been slowly increasing from 23.4% in 2015 to 24.7% in 2020. The industries with the largest number of older workers in 2020 include healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, retail trade, construction, and private educational services. It will be interesting to see whether the 55 and older workers’ share of the workforce continues to grow as the proportion of the older population (70 years and older) continues to grow at a fast pace in the next decade while older workers face the decision to retire – or not.


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