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People are living longer, and working longer, too

Rosa Finnegan "hitches rides in with a co-worker, likes to joke around with

colleagues, and feels very grateful to have her job. At the end of the day, she's ready to sink into a cushy chair at home."

Thus did Mark Trumbull, a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor, begin his story on the nation's senior workforce.

Rosa Finnegan, it turns out, is 100. She works for Vita Needle Co. in Needham, Mass.

As does Howard Ring, 77, a mechanical engineer who was laid off more than 10 years ago and found a new job at the needle company six years ago.

The median age of the company's 48 workers is 73.

Americans are living longer, and many of them are working longer.

"Life spans have been expanding, and attitudes about how to live during the so-called golden years have been evolving toward less emphasis on leisure and more on usefulness," Trumbull wrote.

He ticks off why many employers value senior workers: They are seasoned, knowledgeable, dedicated, reliable, low maintenance, high-performance, and require little supervision. There is little turnover.

Many older employees are part-time, and willing to take on short-term projects.

And sly, too.

"I don't want to fall," Finnegan told Trumbull as she made her way down an aisle at work. "There's too many old people around that would have to pick me up."

Although only about 17 percent of senior Americans are employed, since January 2010, job seekers age 55 and up have accounted for 70 percent of all employment gains.

In the past decade, this older age group has gained some 10 million workers even as employment among other age groups has fallen by more than 4 million.

Among Americans over the age of 65 are 101,100

active farmers and ranchers, about as many bus and taxi drivers, 25,000 musicians, 17,000 crossing guards, 80,000-some chief executives, more than 100,000 janitors and 100,000 retail clerks.

Baseball great Yogi Berra, a famous mangler of the language, said: "The future ain't what it used to be."

He also said: "It ain't over until it's over."

Get used to it, junior.


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