Chart: 23% of Rhode Island workers are now age 55 or older

Rhode Island’s work force is getting older and older in the wake of the Great Recession.

The total number of Rhode Island workers ages 16 to 54 dropped by 55,000 between 2006 and 2013, while the number of workers ages 55 and older rose by 31,000, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey. Those totals include both employed and unemployed workers.

A total of 23% of Rhode Island workers were at least 55 years old in 2013, compared with 17% in 2006.

Here’s a chart comparing the number of workers in each age group in 2006 versus 2013:

RI labor force by ageWhile the growth in Rhode Island’s 55-plus labor force wasn’t enough to offset the decline in its 16-to-54-year-old one, the opposite was true across the broader population. The state’s civilian non-institutional population ages 16 and older grew by 7,000 between 2006 and 2013, thanks to a net gain of 54,000 residents ages 55 and up.

Rhode Island’s population losses between 2006 and 2013 were concentrated in one age group: 35- to 54-year-olds, whose overall number fell by 47,000 during that period – a 14% drop. That decline suggests middle-aged residents either left the state, aged out of the group but weren’t replaced by younger residents, or some combination of the two.

Adults between the ages of 25 and 54 are referred to by economists as “prime-age” workers because they are in the prime of their working lives – focusing on their careers, raising their families and saving for retirement.

Ted Nesi ( ) covers politics and the economy for and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

4 thoughts on “Chart: 23% of Rhode Island workers are now age 55 or older

  1. And now…the so what? What will we do with the outcomes, is the state and industry prepared for the older workforce and its’ diverse needs? (Taking care of their aging parents and their individual needs.) Do our agencies have focused employees for this population? What is the business industry doing to use their expertise and knowledge to their advantage?

    • We older workers can’t find decent jobs, although there are a few out there. The real issue is younger RI’s don’t want to work. Those jobs are labor intensive. Younger workers feel they entitled to a high wage with no experience. You mention to a younger worker they can get a job picking up trash starting at $10. and hour and they’ll tell you they are worth $20. Also what is happening is the younger women in this state are now the head of household (bread winner) while the male counterpart just hangs around all day. Us older workers have the experience and the capability to do most jobs that aren’t too labor intensive. Although we may have earned more at our previous jobs, we know full well we have to start at a wage that is smaller, but we can climb the ladder, so to speak, and earn more if a company chooses to allow advancement in the work place.
      In a nutshell, older workers are taking up the slack the younger workers don’t want to do.

  2. Now, why don’t you compare this with a study of the increase of the number of people (grouped by ages 18 through 54) AND their dependents, who now collect welfare and SSI (a disability/glorified welfare fund) for people who have not worked and paid in enough to be able to collect social security. I’d be willing to bet that THOSE numbers would be most interesting – showing that the largest increases are in the 18 to 35 year old category……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s