Special Report

This Is the Occupation With the Oldest Workers

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21. Clerical library assistants
> Median age in workforce: 50.2 years old
> Workers 65 and older: 9,000 — 13.8% of total workforce
> Projected employment growth, 2019-2029: -3.8%
> Median annual earnings: $28,730

Clerical library assistants is one of 21 occupations in which most people in the workforce are age 50 or older. An estimated 9,000 clerical library assistants are 65 or older, accounting for 13.8% of all workers in this job. Nationwide, 6.6% of all workers are 65 or older.

These workers sort, shelve, issue, and receive items kept at the library, including books, magazines, files, and more. Of the more than 500 occupations considered, clerical library assistants have among the lowest median annual earnings, at $28,730. Most jobs have a median annual pay of over $51,000 per year.

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20. Real estate brokers and sales agents
> Median age in workforce: 50.2 years old
> Workers 65 and older: 164,000 — 15.8% of total workforce
> Projected employment growth, 2019-2029: +2.4%
> Median annual earnings: $56,368

Over half of the 1.04 million Americans working as real estate agents 50 or older. Americans approaching retirement age may be drawn to the occupation for its flexibility. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most real estate agents and brokers are self employed and can set their own hours and schedule.

Real estate professionals typically must complete a course and obtain a license by passing a state issued exam. The typical broker earns $56,368 a year, though that amount can vary considerably.

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19. Millwrights
> Median age in workforce: 50.4 years old
> Workers 65 and older: 1,000 — 1.8% of total workforce
> Projected employment growth, 2019-2029: +6.9%
> Median annual earnings: $61,256

Millwrights are responsible for installing, setting up, and moving machinery and heavy equipment. Unlike nearly every other occupation on this list, a very small share of millwrights are aged 65 and older — just 1.8%. The median age skews to above 50 in large part because only a small share of millwrights are under 35 years old. More than a third fall into the 45-54year old age bracket.

Despite the low share of young workers, the number of millwrights is projected to increase quickly over the next decade, up a projected 6.9% from 2019 to 2029. The employment growth across all occupations is projected to be 3.7% during that time.

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18. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
> Median age in workforce: 50.4 years old
> Workers 65 and older: 150,000 — 12.7% of total workforce
> Projected employment growth, 2019-2029: -5.7%
> Median annual earnings: $42,848

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are typically responsible for recording financial transactions and maintaining and checking financial records for a business or organization. The median age in the occupation is 50.4 years old, about eight years older than the median across the entire U.S workforce.

Like many occupations with an older workforce, bookkeeping and accounting is a dying profession. Due to increased automation and the proliferation of accounting software, the demand for these workers is projected to contract by 5.7% over the next decade.

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17. Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants
> Median age in workforce: 50.4 years old
> Workers 65 and older: 25,000 — 12.8% of total workforce
> Projected employment growth, 2019-2029: -20.4%
> Median annual earnings: $51,532

Most executive secretaries and administrative assistants in the United States are 50 or over — and nearly 13% of the 196,000 Americans working in the field are 65 or older.

Job responsibilities typically include clerical and administrative tasks such as filing, scheduling, document preparation and review, and other support tasks for top executives of an organization. As is the case for many occupations on this list, technology is reducing the need for executive secretaries. Overall employment in the occupation is projected to plummet by 20.4% between 2019 and 2029.