Sep 27, 2023 - Business

Over a quarter of Austin seniors still work

Illustration of an office chair with a doily on top, sitting on front of vintage wallpaper.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

More than 1 in 4 Austin seniors were working past the age of 65 in 2021, a decision senior advocacy groups say is often driven by fear and financial insecurity.

Driving the news: At an age when people could historically retire and get full Social Security benefits, about 27% of Austin seniors — or 25,417 people — remain in the workforce, according to a new study of recent Census Bureau data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  • That's above the national average of 21%.

What they're saying: Many find meaning and connection through the jobs they do, but for others, a high cost of living means they can't afford to step back, Jason Erskine, a spokesperson for AARP in Seattle, told Axios.

  • "Whether it's housing, utilities, groceries or pain at the pump — older adults are finding themselves squeezed financially," he said.
  • In a recent AARP survey, 87% of older workers pointed to their paycheck as a leading reason for why they are continuing to work.

Zoom in: In Austin, the median senior household income is $58,546 per the study.

Reality check: That's far below the median household income of the entire Austin-Round Rock metro area, which was nearly $95,000 in 2022, per new Census Bureau data.

The big picture: Americans retiring now are the first generation forced to rely on private savings, 401(k) plans and IRAs, which don't generate steady and predictable income the way pensions and Social Security do, Axios' Felix Salmon reports.

  • Just 36% of those 55 and older — nearing typical retirement age — say they'll be able to retire at the time they expected and 1 in 5 say they don't think they ever will, according to a recent Axios-Ipsos poll.

Zoom out: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the labor force participation of older workers will continue to rise to 29.9% in 2032 for people aged 65-74 and to 9.9% for those 75 and older.


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