Older workers, for the foreseeable future, will continue to have a significant impact on the economy according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One of the major benefits of federal employment  is early retirement, most can retire immediately between age 55 and 57 with 30 years of service, at age 60 with 20 years of service, or with as little as 5 years service at age 62!
Many older private sector workers seek federal employment late in their careers for a number of reasons. Primarily, with only 5 years of federal service you are vested. This affords older workers several major and significant advantages:
- A Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)  fixed annuity of 1 percent of your high three average annual earnings for each year served.
- The ability to add any military service  to your federal retirement plan.
- A Thrift Savings 401K program  with a 5 percent employer match.
- Plus you can carry your Federal Employees Health Care (FEHB ) plan into retirement at often a much lower cost than other plans.
- All federal employees earn 13 days sick leave a year, start with 2 weeks or more of vacation time, and receive 10 paid holidays every year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS), in their article titled “Older Workers: Labor Force Trends and Career Options,”  indicates that approximately 40 percent of people 55 and older are either working or seeking work. This number is called the labor force participation rate. Labor force participation is the proportion of the population that is in the labor force.
The trend for the older worker has been increasing and is expected to continue its climb for at least the next ten years. Mitra Toossi and Elka Torpey, both economists  at the BLS were interviewed for this article.
According to Mitra Toossi, “The labor force participation rate of the older labor force; 55-years-and-older, including the 65 to 74-year old’s have been increasing because people are living longer, healthier lives and they work more years to have income during their older ages. Also, most get their health insurance through work and having health insurance is a must for older workers. In addition, the Social Security age for retirement has increased and to take full advantage of the benefits you have to work longer years. Also, the whole structure of the benefits has changed from defined benefit to defined contribution, so when you work longer you pay more towards your retirement and to your 401 accounts.”
Additionally, Toossi cites, “By 2024, BLS projects that the labor force will grow to about 164 million people. That number includes about 41 million people who will be ages 55 and older—of whom about 13 million are expected to be ages 65 and older. The 164 million is the total number of the labor force in 2024 and not the 65+ labor force.”
Toossi relates “It is projected that the women’s labor force will be growing faster in the next ten years since women are primarily in occupations such as health services and educational services and these are projected to be increasing in the next decade.”
The referenced article indicates, “more than 42 percent of the workers were in management, professional and related occupations, and this was at a higher proportion than for all workers. Some other related fields for older workers, 55 and older make up at least one-third of occupations total employment in 2016.”
The BLS data specifies that the older worker age group had a higher self-employment rate than that of workers in younger groups. Elka Torpey states, “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of self-employed workers in all occupations will increase by 5.8 percent between 2014 and 2024. This compares with a projected 6.5 increase for all workers in all occupations over that time period.”
Other data the article denotes, “for workers ages 65 and older, the rate of part-time employment is 40 percent.”
Older workers can benefit significantly by seeking out and securing federal employment later in their careers to supplement their retirement income and benefits.
The Federal Retiree’s Job Center , located on FederalRetirement.net , lists many jobs for retirees. Many federal retirees seek employment to remain active, earn additional funds for fun and necessity, and simply to stay involved in their respective fields. Private sector employers target federal retirees that are known for their exceptional skills and strong work ethic. Federal retirees may also reapply and return to federal employment under the rehired annuitant program .
Helpful Career Planning Tools
- Applying For Federal Jobs  (Introduction)
- Federal Employee Benefits 
- Career Development Guide for Federal Employees 
- Federal Retiree’s Job Center 
- BLS Website 
The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages
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