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New Adventures for Older Workers

Interactive website focuses on growing number of Americans working in their retirement years

Created date

August 20th, 2013

Over the next 20 years, 32 million Americans will reach retirement age. While just a generation ago, most older Americans happily traded in their working lives to pursue well-planned and well-funded retirement dreams, today s potential retirees don t necessarily have the same freedom of choice their predecessors enjoyed. Years of national economic turmoil, failing banks, failing companies, and dramatic stock market fluctuations have left a large number of older Americans without enough of a nest egg to quit working for a paycheck. At the same time, opportunities for all workers are in short supply and opportunities for older workers in particular are downright scarce. Some have called it a retirement crisis.

Retirement crisis

Americans are living longer, earning less, saving less, and need more money to simply get by. All of those variables mean that people are working long past the traditional age of retirement and those in the midst of this crisis are treading on uncharted territory. Since the beginning of 2013, PBS NewsHourhas been reporting on the new face of retirement and how Americans are coping with working in their later years. The television network has also launched an interactive website called New Adventures for Older Workers ( featuring all of their video reports along with quizzes, additional data, resources, and analysis. This new website has a wealth of information and resources on everything from finding a job to managing your finances. We spent months digging into reams of data, interviewing experts, and listening to stories of people living this adventure themselves, explains Elizabeth Shell, writer and data producer. Our goal was to create a page that not only highlighted the trends we discovered and the depths of the problems many families face, but to create a space where viewers can share their experiences and have their voice be heard. The result is one of the most in-depth and original explorations into the changing habits of America s older workers.

Working in retirement

In 1975, 85% of private sector employees had pensions. In 2013, that number has fallen to only 35%. Further, savings accounts are not necessarily making up for that loss of pension income because one third of baby boomers have no savings. That means many people have no choice but to continue working. Of course, not everyone working past the traditional age of retirement is doing so because of the money. Many people find themselves at a loss when they suddenly wake up and have no place to go or no set of tasks to fulfill. Work gives people structure, social connections, and a sense of self that is not easily replicated outside of the office or job site. In fact, 54% of Americans say they are working into their later years because they want to, not because they have to.

Moving forward

The PBS website provides resources to help navigate through this new horizon. Organizations that help older Americans find and secure meaningful work such as Encore, AARP, and Next Avenue are linked into the site. They also provide resources for those who have the inspiration and drive to give entrepreneurship a try. In addition, the site provides a social security calculator, explains how financial advisors can help plan and achieve your retirement goals, and offers people the opportunity to share their experiences and pose questions to industry experts. Websites about labor and financial matters often read like textbooks. They can be dry, dreary, and deadly dull, but fortunately, that is not the case with PBS s New Adventures for Older Workers site. The graphics, the design, and the information presented are vibrant and engaging. The site is packed with real life stories of how people have navigated through these uncharted waters and it gives visitors to the site an opportunity to share their own stories as well. Being a pioneer is never without a certain amount of peril. As more and more older Americans face the reality of working longer than expected, they are leading the way redefining what retirement and aging look like. And from the image reflected on this new website, they are doing it with the kind of finesse and spirit that will set the tone and make it easier for generations to come.

Older Americans ' on the job

16.1% The percentage of people 65 and older who were in the labor force in 2010, up from 12.1% in 1990. These older workers numbered 6.5 million in 2010, up from 3.8 million in 1990. By 2011, this rate had increased to 16.2%. 22.3% The percentage of people 65 and older in Alaska in the labor force in 2011. Labor force participation rates for people 65 years and over ranged from 22.3% in Alaska to 12.5% in West Virginia. 44.3% Among those 65 and older who worked in 2011, the percentage who worked full-time, year-round. Among states and equivalents, the District of Columbia had the highest rate, at 62.2%. Source: Labor Force Participation and Work Status of People 65 and Older, U.S. Census Bureau