Retirement is a major milestone in a person’s life. It marks the end of a significant chapter and the start of a new one. The typical age we think of is 65 years old for retirement, but are Americans now working past that age?
With that in mind, we used data given to us exclusively by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the median age of workers in each state as well as the change in median workers since 1978.
We also tracked the percentage of workers in the workforce who are ages 65+ and how that’s changed over time. Read on to see our full findings.
The Median Age of Workers in Each State: Main Findings
What we found is that where you live has a significant impact on the median age of workers. There’s a seven year gap between the state with the youngest workers and the state with the oldest.
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Utah came in as the youngest state with a median age of 38.4. From there, the second youngest is North Dakota with 40.4 years old. Texas is right above them at 40.6 followed by Kentucky at 40.8. Louisiana and Colorado are tied at fifth youngest with an median age of 41 years old.
The 15 States with the Youngest Median Worker Age
1. Utah – 32.4
2. Alaska – 32.6
3. Oregon – 33.4
4. Idaho – 33.6
5. Colorado – 33.6
6. California – 34
6. Louisiana – 34
8. North Dakota – 34.4
9. Texas – 34.7
10. Nevada – 35.1
11. Tennessee – 35.1
12. Nebraska – 35.2
13. Mississippi – 35.4
14. Kentucky – 35.8
15. Arkansas – 36.7
On the other end, Maine and New Hampshire were tied for the state with the oldest workers at 44.8 years old. Connecticut (44.3), Vermont (44.1) and Florida (43.8) round out the top five oldest states. Interestingly, four of the five oldest are located in the northeast.
The 15 States with the Oldest Median Worker Age
1. Maine – 44.8
1. New Hampshire – 44.8
3. Connecticut – 44.3
4. Vermont – 44.1
5. Florida – 43.8
6. Hawaii – 43.7
7. New Jersey – 43.4
8. Maryland – 43.1
8. West Virginia 43.1
10. Massachusetts – 42.9
10. Pennsylvania – 42.9
12. South Dakota 42.7
13. Delaware 42.6
14. Virginia 42.6
15. Minnesota 42.5
The map above shows the change in workers’ median age from 1978 to 2018. Overall, it shows some trends with the first map but also some differences.
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New Hampshire, the state with the oldest workers, also had the largest increase in median age of workers since 1978 at an increase of 10 years. Vermont, another of the oldest, had the second largest increase at 9.6 years. Rounding out the rest of the top five are Hawaii (9.5 years), Alaska (8.7 years), and Minnesota and West Viginia (tied at 8.5 years). Michigan was next at 8.2 years.
The states with the smallest increase in median worker age were Texas (5.9 years), Oklahoma (5.6 years), Kentucky (5 years), New York (4.7 years), and Arkansas (4.6 years).
In addition at looking at state data, we wanted to see how the United States fared on average when it came to median age. There is a clear upward trend and have leveled off some, but still increasing.
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In 1978, the median worker age was 34.9 years old and in 2018 it was 41.9, an increase of 7 years.
Now let’s take a look at a line graph of each state.
Admittedly, the above chart is messy but it generally shows the same pattern as the U.S. — workers are getting older. Note that you can select individual states to see the data by itself.
Washington, D.C., while not a state, was the only place to have it’s workers age decrease. One other note is Utah. It’s workers have consistently been younger than the rest of the states.
Above is a cleaner chart of all of the data from the above maps and charts. It’s both sortable and searchable in case you’re looking for something specific.
Now let’s get into some numbers on workers ages 65+ years old.
Using the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we calculated the percentage of the workforce 65+ years old in the United States from 1978 to 2018. Interestingly, there was a slight dip between the 1970s until almost 1990.
Once we hit the new millennium, the percent started to rise quickly and dramatically. In 1998, workers ages 65+ made up 2.79% of the U.S. workforce. Twenty years later, they made up more than double that at 6.19%.
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Now let’s take a look at each state.
The chart above has all the data for the estimated count of workers ages 65+ as well as the percent of the state’s workforce.
In the final column is the percent change between 1978 and 2018. Some states saw hundreds of percent increase.
Overall, the numbers show that there are more Americans than ever working past 65 years old, the once ‘standard’ age for retirement. Whether it’s because they want to work or out of necessity, the median age of workers in the United States and the percentage of the workforce 65+ has never been higher.