Older workers return to the labor force, but in lower-paying occupations: New Hires Quality Index

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Jan. 3, 2024

The Upjohn Institute New Hires Quality Index fell 0.4 percent between October and November, to $20.03, the largest monthly drop since before the pandemic. Hiring volume crept up 0.2 percent for the month but was down 3.0 percent over the year.  

In this month’s news release, Index creator Brad Hershbein examines hiring trends for older workers. The wage index for newly hired workers 65 and older fell 3.2 percent from last November, back to its prepandemic level. This doesn’t mean fewer older workers were hired into jobs, however.

Contrary to the popular narrative that older workers are taking early retirement or staying out of the labor force after losing jobs during the pandemic, hiring rates for workers 65 and older increased 2.5 percent over the past year. The rise in hiring volume, coupled with the decline in the wage index, implies that less-fortunate older workers likely are taking new jobs out of necessity, Hershbein writes.

Over the long term, older workers continue to increase their share of the earnings power among all new hires. Workers 55 and older now account for 23 percent of the new hires wage bill share, up 1 percentage point from a year ago. This share has roughly doubled over the past 25 years.

Read the full release or explore the index.

Date: January 3, 2024