The U. S. economy made history at the end of July by sustaining the longest expansion period on record. While the benefits of this prosperity have impacted all different groups and demographics, the benefits to our American senior population in particular are considerable. Here are several ways U.S. economic growth is enabling citizens over 55 to drive even greater economic success.
1. In 2018, Americans aged 55 and older gained almost 49% of the 2.9 million jobs created in the workforce. This is the largest share of any age group, even exceeding the 25-54 age demographic, according to an analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Older managers are valuable because they have a wealth of experience and cost businesses less in terms of health care, as they qualify for Medicare at 65 yrs, according to TLRanalytics. USA Today recently noted that 39.2% of Americans 55 and older were working at the end of 2018, the highest level since 1961.
Sarah Chaney of the Wall Street Journal points to an OECD study indicating there is considerable employment upside left in this equation. For example, Japan, according to the data, continues to defy economic odds: 77% of Japanese aged 55 to 64 were active in the labor force in 2018, up from 68.2% in 2011.
2. Investment returns have flourished in the Trump administration — great news for senior and future senior retirement investments. The S&P 500 Index has returned 38%, including dividend reinvestment, and the Nasdaq has generated over 53% returns during the past two-and-a-half years.
3. The U.S. continues to offer the best environment for entrepreneurs. According to the 2018 FreshBooks report, an estimated 27 million Americans will leave the traditional corporate workforce in favor of full-time self-employment by 2020. Kauffman Index of Start-up Activity has found the highest rate of U.S. entrepreneurial activity is currently among the 55 and 64 age group. Rising life expectancy, insufficient retirement savings, as well as desire to maintain productive activity are all playing a role.
4. A Babson College study, The State of Small Business in America, confirms more than half of U.S. small business owners are now aged 50 and older. This trend could accelerate as the regulatory environment eases administrative burdens that caused great harm to mom-and-pop enterprises.
5. Senior entrepreneurs propel economic expansion and contribute more than $120 billion in federal taxes annually to support fiscal programs, thus reducing dependency on entitlements.
6. A strong economy offers more opportunities to a wider range of our population. Only 26% of small business owners have a bachelor’s degree, according to a CNBC/Survey Monkey survey — yet that hasn’t held them back from success. Five years after a business opens, 60% to 70% of ventures established by senior entrepreneurs remain in operation, compared to 28% of enterprises started by younger entrepreneurs. Skills and determination define success — and it also seems that experience that comes with age helps
7. Healthy environments boost start-up activity, and we now see venture funding geared toward our older demographic accelerating. As longer lifespans unfold, we desperately need new, low-cost technologies in areas such as caregiving, assisted-living support and end-of-life care — technologies seniors are uniquely equipped to develop and implement.
8. Only in growing economies do cities and communities have an opportunity to make infrastructure improvements. Retiring boomers will no longer accept the isolated housing options of the past. Paul Irving, chair of The Center of the Future of Aging and the Milken Institute, contends that productive integration of aging communities into housing, recreation, and transportation, to name a few areas, will not only benefit older Americans, but present new business opportunities for everyone.
9. The “longevity economy” will be a remarkable transformation in the U.S., according to an Oxford Economics report. We have 106 million people over the age of 50 responsible for $7.6 trillion of annual economic activity.
10. Finally, this unprecedented economic expansion increases the range of “purposeful activity” among retired seniors, such as volunteering, educational programs and mentoring. Pursuits like these are shown to maintain health, happiness and potentially deter or delay the onslaught of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other conditions.
It’s easy to forget the contributions of senior citizens. Our culture’s obsession with youth and novelty leads us to overlook the power of experience and continuity. But if these numbers show anything, it’s that the elderly still have the power to push us further along the path to prosperity.
Clara Del Villar is the Director of Senior Initiatives at FreedomWorks.
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