Sunday, August 08, 2010

Study: Many Older Workers in Difficult or Physically Demanding Jobs Could Lose Out if Retirement Age Increases

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has published a study that demonstrates that a large number of U.S. workers--in particular, those in physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult work conditions--would be adversely affected by raising the normal retirement age for Social Security. In "Hard Work? Patterns in Physically Demanding Labor Among Older Workers", researcher Hye Jin Rho found that, in 2009, 45% of workers age 58 and older had physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult working conditions and that, among other things, these were disproportionately held by less educated, poorer, and minority workers.

The study reports that, among other things:
  • difficult jobs were held by 62.4% of Latino workers, 53.2% of black workers, 50.5% of Asian Pacific American workers, and 42.6% percent of white workers.
  • older workers with less than a high school diploma had the highest share of workers (77.2%) in difficult jobs.
  • 56.4% of older workers in the bottom wage quintile had physically demanding jobs compared to only about 17% of those in the top quintile.
  • 63.3% of older workers in the bottom wage quintile had difficult jobs compared to only about 25% of those in the top quintile.
According to Rho, "Many older workers are in jobs that require substantial physical effort, jobs that may not afford them the option of working into their 70s in order to get full retirement benefits."

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research News Release (August 5, 2010)

Additional Resource: New York Times "Retiring Later Is Hard Road for Laborers" (September 12, 2010)

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