Published in the Knowledge@Wharton publication from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In this opinion piece, researchers Amy Lui Abel and Diane Lim of The Conference Board explain why demographic and economic trends provide an opportunity for older women to expand their role in the labor market. Several female-dominated occupations — especially in health care services — face shortages that will only grow. But given the unique needs and circumstances of older women, realizing their full economic contribution will hinge on employers providing them with more flexible work environments. If companies do this, the greying of America could become an opportunity rather than a threat.
We’ve reported on the growing shortages in the workplace and that companies can evolve to find ways to retain workers or bring older workers back in the fold.
In the article the researchers target women as the beneficiaries of the trend especially if companies can accommodate flexible work schedules.
Of all the population groups participating in America’s workforce, women 55 and older represent the single fastest growing age-gender segment. That group alone will account for more than a third – nearly 3.6 million – of all additional workers entering the labor force over the next decade (2016-2026).
Some choose to remain or return to the workplace for enrichment and to follow passions. Others return because of the financial realities of too little savings and sometimes caring for their families into their 60s.
Whereas women on average head into retirement with nearly $40,000 in savings, men head in with $60,000. Moreover, many older women face the dual responsibility of tending to both their elderly parents and their children.
Women already make up the majority of workers in healthcare and caregiving fields. Those jobs are going to dominate the in-demand fields as the population ages with not enough entering the workforce to keep pace. Changes to immigration laws have added to the shortage.
The authors conclude:
All signs and hopes point to women. And while older women stand to uniquely benefit from flexible work arrangements, so will all workers who want a healthy work-life balance for their families. As the nature of work evolves, our economy will better adapt to the aging of the U.S. population. The greying of America thus becomes less of a challenge and more of an opportunity to make the most of the country’s full economic capacity and greatest natural resource: human capital.
Read the full article: Why Retaining Older Women in the Workforce Will Help the U.S. Economy