May's the Month to Respect Your Elders -- Your Future Is in Their Hands

Elders It may not be a very sexy title, but May is "Older Americans Month," and it's a good time to focus on the massive impact seniors have on the economy in general, and on the job market in particular. Baby boomers make up the largest population demographic in America, and as they age, they'll provide all sorts of new opportunities for savvy members of both Generation X and Generation Y.

In case you, like millions of others, have never even heard of Older Americans Month, here's a little background: It all started with President John F. Kennedy. A meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens resulted in the president's designation of May 1963 as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging the nation to pay tribute in some way to older people across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate those 65 and older through ceremonies, events and public recognition.

When you look at it by the numbers, you can see why Older Americans deserve their own tribute month, and what kind of jobs their needs, tastes and inclinations will create. For example, 81 percent of householders 65 and older owned their own homes as of fourth quarter 2010. And 70 percent of citizens 65 and older reporting casting a ballot in the 2008 presidential election. Along with those 45 to 64, people 65 and older had the highest voter turnout rate of any age group. If these facts don't give you an idea of how valuable this demographic is for marketing and political campaigns, nothing will.

See what kind of significance you can come up with from some of the following numbers:

88.5 million: The projected population of Americans 65 and older in 2050. People in this age group would comprise 20 percent of the total population at that time.

545 million: The projected 2011 midyear world population 65 and older. Projections indicate the number will increase to 1.55 billion by 2050. The percentage of the world's population 65 and older would increase from about 8 percent to about 17 percent over this period.

35: The projected number of people 65 and older to every 100 people of traditional working ages (ages 20 to 64) in 2030, up from 22 in 2010. This time period coincides with the time when baby boomers are moving into the 65 and older age category.

6.5 million: Number of people 65 and older who were in the labor force when last measured. Projections indicate that by 2018, the number will reach 11.1 million.

42 Percent: The percentage working in management, professional and related occupations among employed people 65 and older.

56 Percent: Percentage of people 65 and older who described their relationship status as "married" in 2010.

4.1 million: Number of people 65 and older living in California, the highest total of any state, at last count. Florida, with 3.2 million, and New York, with 2.6 million, were the runners-up.

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