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A Record Number of Folks Age 85 and Older Are Working

Andrew Van Dam, “A Record Number of Folks Age 85 and Older Are Working,” The Washington Post (7-5-18); submitted by David Finch, Oakland, Oregon

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A Record Number of Folks Age 85 and Older Are Working

Seventy may be the new 60, and 80 may be the new 70, but 85 is still pretty old to work in America. Yet in some ways, it is the era of the very old worker in America. Overall, 255,000 Americans 85 years old or older were working over the past 12 months. That's 4.4 percent of Americans that age, up from 2.6 percent in 2006, before the recession. It’s the highest number on record.

They're doing all sorts of jobs—crossing guards, farmers and ranchers, even truckers. Indeed, there are between 1,000 and 3,000 U.S. truckers age 85 or older, based on 2016 Census Bureau figures. Their ranks have roughly doubled since the Great Recession.

America’s aging workforce has defined the post-Great Recession labor market. Baby boomers and their parents are working longer as life expectancies grow, retirement plans shrink, education levels rise and work becomes less physically demanding. Labor Department figures show that at every year of age above 55, U.S. residents are working or looking for work at the highest rates on record.

Workers age 85 and older are more common in less physical industries, such as management and sales, than they are in demanding ones such as manufacturing and construction. Crossing guards are relatively likely to be age 85 or above. The same goes for musicians, anyone who works in a funeral home and product demonstrators like those you might find at a warehouse club store.

Nobody questions whether older workers can make a difference. After all, some of America’s most prominent workers are around 85. The oldest Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is 85. Rupert Murdoch is 87. So are George Soros, Warren Buffett and Toni Morrison.

Possible Preaching Angles: National Sanctity of Life Day; Old Age; Retirement; Service - Not only will society benefit as older workers stay on the job, but the church can also gain from the wisdom and experience of its senior members as they stay in active service. ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…planted in the house of the Lord, they… will still bear fruit in old age’ (Psalm 92:12-14)

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