According to a report issued by the California Budget Project, employment rates of Californians at or near retirement age continued to rise even during the economic downturn. Specifically, in 2008, 63% of people age 55 to 64 were employed, up from 58.4% in 2000 and 54.8% in 1995 after having been fairly stable before then (1995 was just up 1.2% from 1979). For older workers, those 65 to 69, 29.7% were working in 2008, up from 22% in 2000.
When looking at the numbers on a gender basis, the Budget Project found that the trends for men and women aged 55 to 69 varied. While about half of women are still working, a figure that has climbed steadily from 32% in 1979, the percentage of working men declined from 58% in 1979 to 51% in 1995, then rebounded to 60.7% in 2008.
Looking more closely at the current economic downturn, older workers have been increasing their participation rates while they drop for younger workers. Thus, the share of Californians age 55 to 64 who were employed increased by 0.9% between 2007 and 2008 (from 62.1% to 63%) and the employment rate of Californians age 65 to 69 rose by 4.5% (from 25.2% to 29.7%), while the share of Californians age 25 to 54 who were employed declined by 1.2% 2007 and 2008.
Sources: California Budget Project Policy Points (April 2009); San Jose Mercury News "More Californians working later in life, especially women" (April 7, 2009)