Document Type

Fact Sheet

Publication Date



Labor force participants are defined as individuals who are either working for pay, working in a family business, or unemployed and either looking for work or laidoff and waiting for recall. Older individuals who participate in the labor force have access to a source of income-earnings and wages-unavailable to nonparticipants. Employment may also provide access to valuable health insurance coverage for seniors and their families.

Seniors throughout the United States, including those within Massachusetts, report characteristically low rates of labor force participation, especially at the higher ages. Although a majority of those approaching later life (age 55-64) either work or are looking for work, only about 20% of these aged 65 and over participate in the labor force. Overall, older workers aged 55 to 64 in Massachusetts are somewhat more likely than their counterparts in the United States as a whole to be participating in the labor force (71% versus 65% in 2009).


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