Special Report

This Is How Many People Are Retired in Every State

Millions of Baby Boomers have been retiring each year since the first members of this generational group (born between 1946 and 1964) became eligible for Social Security benefits in 2008. The pace has accelerated recently as older Americans have weighed the risks of working during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and decided it was an ideal time to bow out of the labor force. (Let’s hope they considered at least some of these 27 ugly truths about retirement.)

According to an analysis of government data by the Pew Research Center, the number of Boomers who reported they were out of the labor force due to retirement rose by a record 3.2 million last year, more than double the number in 2019. 

As of August 2021, the U.S. Social Security Administration reported that there are about 46.9 million retired workers in the United States, making up about 14% of the total population (not counting U.S. territories or the District of Columbia). The distribution of these retired workers is, of course, not evenly divided between the states. The share of retired workers in each state ranges between 9.6% and 18.7%. (Washington D.C. has the lowest share — excluding. territories — with only 8.6% of its population retired.)  

To determine the number of retired people in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Social Security Administration on the total number of retired workers by state for December 2020. Population figures used in calculating percentages came from U.S. Census Bureau data for 2019.

It turns out that the size of a state’s population doesn’t correlate with its share of retirees. For instance, California and Texas, the top two most populous states, have about 7.6 million retirees between them, but both states rank near the bottom in their percentage of retirees. The country’s third-most populous state, Florida, on the other hand, ranks near the top.

Click here to see the number of retired people in every state

Climate doesn’t appear to be a factor, either. The lure of mild to hot year-round weather is often cited as an attractive draw for older Americans, but the top four states with the largest shares of retirees are located at or near the Canadian border, while Wisconsin and New Hampshire are in the top 10. (These are the best and worst states for a healthy retirement.)