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By the Numbers

by Derek Teed
derek.teed@state.mn.us
October 2019

As the average Minnesotan continues to get older1 and the 65+ age group gets larger, it can be important to track the jobs these workers are transitioning to. Older people are working longer these days. Workers who are 65 years and older make up 4.8% of the total workforce in Minnesota in 2018, which is much higher than the 2.7% in 2003. We found that older people make up a large percentage of the workforce in certain niche industries. Table 1 shows the largest workforce participation for the 65+ age group in 2018.

Table 1. Largest Workforce Participation Percentage Increases from 2003 to 2018 for people 65+ years old

3-Digit Industry

65+ Age Group, Workforce Percent in Each Industry 2003

65+ Age Group, Workforce Percent in Each Industry 2018

Total Employment for All Ages in 2018

Total, All Industries

2.7%

4.8%

2,881,705

Transit and Ground Passenger Transport

12.5%

21.3%

19,890

Crop Production

7.3%

10.7%

7,411

Building Material & Garden Supply Stores

4.1%

10.4%

26,685

Museums, Parks, and Historical Sites

3.9%

9.5%

3,959

Real Estate

6.1%

8.2%

27,882

Source: Minnesota Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Quarterly Employment Demographics, October 2019


The largest increase in workforce participation by industry is in Transit and Ground Passenger Transport. The largest 6-digit industries within Transit and Ground Passenger Transport are School and Employee Bus Transportation and Special Needs Transportation. Together they make up 67% of the Transit and Ground Passenger Transport Industry.

Seeing the overall employment gains for the 65+ age group from 2003 to 2018 helps us understand which industries employ the most people 65+. Table 2 shows the largest total employment gains by industry for the 65+ age group. Educational Services has the largest increase in the 65+ age group employment, but this is largely caused by the large size of the industry.

Table 2. Largest Total Employment Increases from 2003 to 2018 for people 65+ years old

3-Digit Industry

Employment Gain

Percentage Gain
in Employment

Total Employment for
65+ age group in 2018

Total, All Industries

68,714

98.7%

138,321

Educational Services

8,485

140%

14,547

Ambulatory Health Care Services

4,534

305%

6,748

Social Assistance

4,471

340%

6,336

Administrative and Support Services

2,858

93.5%

5,914

Hospitals

2,303

209%

4,406

Source: Minnesota Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Quarterly Employment Demographics, October 2019.
Note: The total job gains were found by taking the total job gains by industry from QCEW and multiplying those job gains by the workforce percentage of the 65 year and older demographic group in QED.


According to QCEW, all the industries in Table 1 and 2 are industries that have below average wages, except for Hospitals and Ambulatory Health Care Services. It is unknown if the 65+ age group is working in these industries because they cannot retire yet, want something to fill time, want extra money in retirement, or any other reason.


1VerHelst, Megan. “Here’s How Much Older Minnesota’s Population Has Gotten.” Minneapolis, MN Patch, Patch, 21 June 2019, https://patch.com/minnesota/minneapolis/here-s-how-much-older-minnesota-s-population-has-gotten.

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