An article in The Washington Post reviews Bureau of Labor Statistics data finding that although the recession has "thinned the ranks of other generations in the workforce, more people older than 55 are employed than ever before." Peter Whoriskey reports that while the "reasons for the surge of older workers are complex," experts point to "the growing fear among older Americans that they lack the means to support their retirement needs."
According to BLS data, those 55 and older in the workforce has risen by 3.1 million, or 12%, since the recession started. In addition, there are more people 75 years and older at work. This is not just absolute numbers: the percentage of those 55 and older at work has climbed from 38.9% to 40.3% during the recession.
Among other things noted are the shift from employers provided defined benefit plans to reliance on 401(k) plans, which increases the incentive to continue working in later years.
Source: The Washington Post "Amid downturn, more older Americans employed than ever before" (January 13, 2012)