‘Just Unbearable.’ Booming Job Market Can’t Fill the Retirement Shortfall

For older Americans, the last few years of work can be a vital chance to patch up thin savings or pay down debt to ease their way into retirement. Many aren’t getting that opportunity.

. . . Even though the official unemployment rate is just 3% for older workers, the actual jobs environment is surprisingly bleak. Nearly eight million older Americans are out of work or stuck in low-quality jobs that offer little opportunity to prepare for retirement, a Wall Street Journal analysis of government data shows.

The figures include the nearly 2.1 million Americans who are out of work, working part time because they can’t find a full-time job or have stopped looking because they don’t think anyone will hire them.

Another 5.8 million Americans—or 23% of full-time, year-round workers ages 55 and older—are employed in what economists describe as “bad jobs” that offer no health benefits and typically pay poorly. A decade ago, about 20% held these jobs, according to census data compiled by the Minnesota Population Center.

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