CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A new study on pandemic work trends tracked how many older adults—which the study identified as people 65 and older—have returned to the workforce.
Magnify Money found that in late April and early May 2020, 19.5% of Americans 65 and older were working, and two years later, that figure jumped to 21.9%.
The study released Monday also found that in the same time period, the share of U.S. adults who reported that they’re retired went up from 14.9% to 17.4%.
West Virginia saw the sharpest decline in its percentage of retired adults—a decrease of 1.7%, compared to a decrease of 0.9% in South Dakota, which saw the next-highest decrease.
West Virginia was in the top five states that saw the highest jump in older adults joining the workforce between 2020 and 2022:
- New Jersey: 18.9%
- West Virginia: 17.2%
- Pennsylvania: 14.6%
- New Hampshire: 8.7%
- Georgia: 8.1%
According to the study, 8.0% of the Mountain State’s workforce was comprised of adults age 65 or older in 2020, and in 2022, that figure rose to 25.2%.
Other states saw older adults leave the workforce. The change was most dramatic in the following:
- North Dakota: 11.0%
- Wisconsin: 8.3%
- North Carolina: 6.3%
- Alaska: 4.4%
- Maine: 4.3%
Magnify Money cited some reasons for the changes, including median weekly wages rising from $951 to $1,030 and inflation hitting a record-breaking 40-year high. Another possible factor it cited was the fact that older people are more at-risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms than younger people, which could have caused many of them to leave the workforce in 2020, only to return in 2021 and 2022 as vaccination rates increased and more of them felt comfortable working again.
The study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, which asked respondents whether they were employed in the past seven days, Magnify Money said it then estimated the percentage of adults 65 and older employed in each U.S. state in both periods and then ranked the states with the biggest jumps by percentage points. Magnify Money also said it analyzed retirement data at the national and state levels.