The number of people aged 65 and older in the labor force is projected to grow by almost 80 percent through 2018, according to new analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those aged 55 to 64 will grow by 33 percent.

Fifty-five to 64-year-old workers will increase by more than seven million and those aged 65 and older will jump by almost five million.

The baby-boom generation–those born between 1946 and 1964–is expected to remain in the labor force longer than previous generations, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Meanwhile, the numbers of 45- to 54-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds are expected to shrink as baby boomers age and shift into older groups.

Service-providing sectors are projected to generate almost all of the employment gain from 2008 to 2018, according to an Editor’s Desk article from the Department of Labor.

“Thanks to advances in medicine, people now enjoy better health as they age and, as a result, are able to remain in the labor force longer than workers in previous generations did,” according to the Occupational Outlook Quarterly for Winter 2009-10. “A variety of economic factors–an increase in the Social Security eligibility age, for example–create incentives for people to keep working. Because of such factors, the number of people in the labor force aged 65 and older is expected to grow about 10 times faster than the total labor force.”

Numeric change in labor force by age, projected 2008-18
(Thousands of people) (Ages)
-901 16 to 24
+3,482 25 to 34
-274 35 to 44
-1,660 45 to 54
+7,139 55 to 64
+4,839 65 and older