Millions of Older Workers in Occupations Classified as Physically Demanding or with Difficult Work Conditions

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

Millions of Older Workers in Occupations Classified as Physically Demanding or with Difficult Work Conditions

WASHINGTON - Among the proposals to cut Social Security, raising the age of
retirement as high as 70 has emerged as one of the most likely
scenarios. As with most of the suggested cuts, little consideration has
been given to the potential impact on retirees. A new study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research
(CEPR), examines the occupations of older workers in physically
demanding jobs or jobs with difficult work conditions to better assess
the impact of raising the retirement age on these workers.

"Many older workers are in jobs that
require substantial physical effort, jobs that may not afford them the
option of working into their 70s in order to get full retirement
benefits," said Hye Jin Rho, author of the paper.

The report, "Hard Work? Patterns in Physically Demanding Labor Among Older Workers,"
documents the number of older workers in physically demanding jobs or
jobs with difficult work conditions. The study examines workers based on
a variety of demographic characteristics, including gender, age cohort,
ethnicity, and income quintile and shows that in 2009, 45 percent of
workers age 58 and older had physically demanding jobs or jobs with
difficult working conditions.

Other findings of the report include:

  • 37 percent of male workers age 58 and older had physically demanding jobs,
  • Among those age 58 and older,
    difficult jobs were held by 62.4 percent of Latino workers, 53.2 percent
    of black workers, 50.5 percent of Asian Pacific American workers, and
    42.6 percent of white workers.
  • Older workers with less than a high school diploma had the highest share of workers (77.2 percent) in difficult jobs.
  • 56.4 percent of older workers in
    the bottom wage quintile had physically demanding jobs compared to only
    about 17 percent of those in the top quintile.
  • 63.3 percent of older workers in
    the bottom wage quintile had difficult jobs compared to only about 25
    percent of those in the top quintile.

This study
demonstrates that a large number of workers would be adversely affected
by raising the normal retirement age. As with all the proposals to cut
Social Security, careful consideration should be given to effects on the
millions of older workers who will have little else to depend on in
their retirement.

###

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

Share This Article

More in: