Retirement Jobs

The industries with the highest percentage of retiree workers

Inflation is rising globally, even in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported inflation had increased to 9.1% in June, the highest it’s been since 1981. In fact, the rise in the cost of living has most of the US expecting to be working past the age of retirement.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people over the age of 65 working in the US is over 10.1 million, as of 2021. These are people who have likely been working their entire lives and instead of enjoying their hard-earned retirement, are instead continuing to work to have the necessary money for their everyday lives, or in some cases, they simply enjoy doing so.

Industries with the highest amount of people working past retirement

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we have looked at the number of people working past retirement age. As of 2021, the BLS recorded that 152,581,000 people aged 16 and above made up the workforce. Of that number, 10.1 million were aged 65 and older, making up 6.64% of the total workforce.

Forbes reports that in 2020, the BLS reported that people aged 65 and over made up 10.6 million of the overall workforce, which is a higher figure than the updated statistics for 2021. This indicates that the number of retiree workers is in fact decreasing, with the data presently available. This could be due to the current economic struggles, job shortages for older workers or other difficulties retirees may have when looking for work.

Below, we also analyzed which industries have the most people working past retirement age as well as some of the reasons for this.

1. Animal Production and Aquaculture

  • Total Number of People Employed (aged 16 and over): 766,000
  • Number of People Employed (ages 65 years and older): 174,000
  • Median Age: 50.3
  • Percentage of the Workforce 65 and over: 22.72%

The animal production industry is always going to have some place in America, it seems. The production, raising, and marketing of livestock is a cornerstone of human life. It provides many different types of foods, primarily proteins, plus there are other parts of the animal that are useful. Aquaculture is a similar process, but instead, sea life is farmed. This industry has a total of 766,000 people employed in the US, as of 2021 and 22.72% of those are ages 65 and over. The median age for the industry is 50.3 years old, which is the fourth highest in the US.

2. Sewing, Needlework, and Piece Goods Stores

  • Total Number of People Employed (aged 16 and over): 52,000
  • Number of People Employed (ages 65 years and older): 11,000
  • Median Age: 52.8
  • Percentage of the Workforce 65 and over: 21.15%

It would seem that sewing and piece goods stores also have a large number of people working past the retirement age. This does not actually involve sewing or the like, but rather the retail of sewing and needlework accessories, such as sewing pins or machines, yarn, and fabrics. This industry has the highest median age for workers, at 52.8 years old and 21.15% of the overall workforce is aged 65 and over.

3. Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping

  • Total Number of People Employed (aged 16 and over): 45,000
  • Number of People Employed (ages 65 years and older): 9,000
  • Median Age: –
  • Percentage of the Workforce 65 and over: 20.00%

Commercialized hunting, fishing, and trapping are one of the most beloved industries in the United States, by many individuals. The industry includes using hunting and fishing preserves to release captive and non-native animals for hunting purposes. Only those with licenses can participate, though the ethics of it are at best debatable. As of 2021, 45,000 people were employed in the industry and 20% of those were aged 65 and older.

4. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting

  • Total Number of People Employed (aged 16 and over): 2,291,000
  • Number of People Employed (ages 65 years and older): 428,000
  • Median Age: 48
  • Percentage of the Workforce 65 and over: 18.68%

This sector is comprised of companies and establishments that are concerned with growing crops, cultivating tree nurseries, raising livestock, and harvesting timber, crops, and animals, such as fish. This type of work is done on ranches, farms, orchards, and hatcheries. As of 2021, there were 2.29 million people employed in this industry and almost 19 percent of those were aged 65 and over. Considering how active and physical farm and ranch work can be, this is rather surprising.

5. Religious Organizations

  • Total Number of People Employed (aged 16 and over): 979,000
  • Number of People Employed (ages 65 years and older): 179,000
  • Median Age: 50.6
  • Percentage of the Workforce 65 and over: 18.28%

The Religious Organizations industry is pretty self-explanatory from its title alone. It consists of organizations and establishments that promote religious worship and activities. This can include churches, monasteries, and other houses of worship, as well as religiously affiliated community centers. This, however, does not include religious schools or hospitals. As of 2021, the median age for this industry was 50.6 years of age. Furthermore, there were 979,000 people working in this sector, with 18.28% of those being aged 65 and older.

Rank Industry Workforce (16 years and over) Workforce (65 years

and over)



% of workforce over 65
1 Animal production and aquaculture 766,000 174,000 50.3 22.72%
2 Sewing, needlework, and piece goods stores 52,000 11,000 52.8 21.15%
3 Fishing, hunting, and trapping 45,000 9,000 20.00%
4 Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting 2,291,000 428,000 48 18.68%
5 Religious organizations 979,000 179,000 50.6 18.28%
6 Scenic and sightseeing transportation 22,000 4,000 18.18%
7 Crop production 1,197,000 216,000 47.5 18.05%
8 Cutlery and hand tool manufacturing 45,000 8,000 17.78%
9 Funeral homes, and cemeteries and crematories 126,000 22,000 49.8 17.46%
10 Independent artists, writers, and performers 369,000 64,000 48.3 17.34%
11 Pottery, ceramics, and plumbing fixture manufacturing 29,000 5,000 17.24%
12 Used merchandise stores 229,000 39,000 48.1 17.03%
13 Libraries and archives 204,000 32,000 50.2 15.69%
14 Gift, novelty, and souvenir shops 96,000 15,000 42.7 15.63%
15 Bus service and urban transit 460,000 68,000 52.7 14.78%
16 Fuel dealers 75,000 11,000 49.3 14.67%
17 Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores 157,000 23,000 48.9 14.65%
18 Metals and minerals, except petroleum, merchant wholesalers 41,000 6,000 14.63%
19 Newspaper publishers 126,000 18,000 49.6 14.29%
20 Offices of other health practitioners 345,000 49,000 47.7 14.20%
21 Lessors of real estate, and offices of real estate agents and brokers 2,371,000 328,000 48.1 13.83%
22 Office supplies and stationery stores 80,000 11,000 42.6 13.75%
23 Periodical, book, and directory publishers 162,000 22,000 46.3 13.58%
24 Membership associations and organizations 1,962,000 265,000 47 13.51%
25 Real estate 2,918,000 392,000 47.9 13.43%

Career Options for Retirement-Aged Workers

With the workforce now having to work past retirement age in many cases and with inflation rising, many may have to plan to do so in the future. So, here are some of the career options for retirement-age workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Archivists, Curators and Museum Technicians

This job is typically full-time work, however, museum work can have relaxed physical demands. It can also call for mentally challenging and stimulating work, which provides mental health benefits. As of 2016, approximately a third of the workers in this industry were aged 55 and higher. Typically, at least a bachelor’s degree is required in this field of work and the median pay for a full-time role is $50,120 as of May 2021, a nice contribution to those pension funds.

2. Clergy

The older people in the workforce have already established themselves in the religious sector, working as clergy is also a great option. They conduct religious and spiritual worship, as well as other related functions and offer guidance to people who may need it. This type of job can offer a sense of community and social engagement, whilst being paid, which can have numerous benefits. This role pays a median salary of $49,720 as of May 2021 for a full-time role.

3. Library Technician

Library technicians typically work under the supervision of a librarian and assist with a range of duties. Some of this includes organizing and re-shelving books that have been borrowed, assisting patrons to find and lend materials and may also be required for clerical tasks, such as answering the telephone. The median pay for this job is $16.37 per hour, as of May 2021, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. Cashiers

Working as a cashier can have many benefits for those that have passed the age for retirement. The social interaction with customers and having to handle sums of money can provide benefits to mental health, lowering the risks of diseases such as dementia. And with vacancies being widely available, it’s not a job that’s difficult to find. The median pay, as of 2021 is $13.11 per hour, which is higher than many states’ minimum wage rates.

5. Crossing Guards

Everyone is familiar with crossing guards, they typically are seen working in areas that have schools, but can also work at railroad crossings and even areas with construction work. They control and guide traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian to ensure there are no incidents. The annual median salary for this job is $31,450 as of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tips for finding work in retirement

1. Update your resume

If you haven’t even looked at your resume for some time, it could understandably be outdated. On top of that, it could help to tailor your resume to the type of work you’re looking for, such as part-time work in retail or a library. You could even ask a family member to help you make it relevant and the best that it can be.

2. Consider a new field of work

No matter your age, it’s never too late to learn new skills. If you’ve been working in a specialized field your whole career, that may not be viable once you’re past retirement age. You may find it easier looking for work in more common sectors, such as retail or working for a non-profit organization.

3. Leverage your experience and skills

No matter your previous occupation, you should leverage and market your experience and your skills, where applicable. There are plenty of transferable skills that make for very good workers, such as teamwork, communication and adaptability. Read each job description carefully and then you’ll be able to properly sell yourself as the right candidate.

4. Broaden your skills

There is a myriad of classes that are available across the United States and even online that teach all sorts of things. This can help you modernize your skillset and stay relevant in the changing job market. Even learning basic computer skills can give you a better chance at securing jobs as a cashier or a librarian.

5. Network

Over your long time in the workforce, you might have built a variety of contacts and previous employers, utilize this resource in your job search. Get in touch with old employers or other people in your industry to see if there are any opportunities they know of. Potentially, they may even be able to recommend you for the role further increasing your chances!


In order to get the employment data, we used the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows the number of employees in a variety of industries by age as of 2021. We looked at the “Total, 16 years and over” and the “65 years and over” columns, which provide figures in thousands. We multiplied the numbers by 1,000 to get the actual figures and then calculated what percentage of the total workforce is aged 65 and over for each industry and ranked them on it.

We again used the Bureau of Labor Statistics in order to get an idea of the most ideal career options for senior workers.