Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a rising share of adults 65 and older are working. In late April and early May 2020, 19.5% of Americans 65 and older were working. That figure jumped more than 2 percentage points in late April and early May 2022 to 21.9%. At the same time, the share of U.S. adults who reported that they’re retired is up similarly — from 14.9% in April and May 2020 to 17.4% in April and May 2022.
More than a quarter of working Americans 65 and older are self-employed. 25.6% of employed older Americans are self-employed — more than triple the rate among working Americans 25 to 39. Meanwhile, the government isn’t the landing spot it once was for older workers: In April and May 2020, 15.2% of employed Americans 65 and older worked for the government. In April and May 2022, however, that percentage plummeted by a third to 10.1%.
New Jersey saw the largest jump in older adults in the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic. In April and May 2020, 18.1% of Americans 65 and older were employed in New Jersey. By April and May 2022, that was up 18.9 percentage points to 37.0%. The other states with double-digit increases were West Virginia (17.2 percentage points) and Pennsylvania (14.6).
North Dakota saw the biggest dip in the percentage of adults 65 and older in the workforce. The rate of older working adults went from 36.0% in April and May 2020 to 25.0% in April and May 2022 — a drop of 11.0 percentage points. Other big drops were seen in Wisconsin (8.3 percentage points) and North Carolina (6.3).
There was the good news from before the pandemic: the accidental death rate had come way, way down. That was mostly due to improved traffic safety. (Not reduced drug ODs, alas)
In the pandemic, both increased motor vehicle deaths and drug overdoses has pushed up the accidental death rate for teens to increase to levels seen a decade ago.
But there was a bad pre-pandemic trend: suicide rates had increased from 2007 to 2018 — increasing a total of 120% over that period. That was hideous.
It seemed to have reversed in 2019, and come down during the pandemic. The suicide trends in the pandemic really made no sense to anybody, but perhaps the increased drug ODs were actually suicides.
Homicides didn’t have a steady trend before the pandemic, but has definitely had a bad trend during the pandemic. Homicide death rates for teens increased over 50% from 2019 to 2021.
One observation: suicide and homicide death rates used to be about the same for teens in the early 2000s, and then with the bad suicide trend, suicide ranked higher. Even with the increase in homicide rates, suicide still ranks higher.
In addition, drug overdose and poisoning increased by 83.6% from 2019 to 2020 among children and adolescents, becoming the third leading cause of death in that age group. This change is largely explained by the 110.6% increase in unintentional poisonings from 2019 to 2020. The rates for other leading causes of death have remained relatively stable since the previous analysis, which suggests that changes in mortality trends among children and adolescents during the early Covid-19 pandemic were specific to firearm-related injuries and drug poisoning; Covid-19 itself resulted in 0.2 deaths per 100,000 children and adolescents in 2020.1
Although the new data are consistent with other evidence that firearm violence has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic,5 the reasons for the increase are unclear, and it cannot be assumed that firearm-related mortality will later revert to prepandemic levels. Regardless, the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death. Generational investments are being made in the prevention of firearm violence, including new funding opportunities from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, and funding for the prevention of community violence has been proposed in federal infrastructure legislation. This funding momentum must be maintained.
Jason E. Goldstick, Ph.D. Rebecca M. Cunningham, M.D. Patrick M. Carter, M.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
The company bases the index on prices for coverage with a 20-year-level premium term.
The lowest price shown is for coverage for a 25-year-old female nonsmoker who wants $250,000 in death benefits; The highest price is for a 55-year-old male smoker who wants $1 million in death benefits.
Policygenius figures suggest rising premiums may not be causing life application friction.
This month, the lowest price in the tables fell slightly, to $14.21, from $14.25 last month.
For 2021, the worst relative increase in mortality, compared to 2019, was for ages 30-44.
[I have called it the Millennial Massacre, but it obviously overlaps with Gen X…. and Middle Age Massacre doesn’t exactly work, either. Dang the allure of alliteration].
We will see in a moment that most of that mortality increase didn’t come from COVID.
If you look at overall mortality, obviously total mortality for this age group is much lower than for those much older.
A 5% increase in mortality for those aged 85+ will translate to a much larger number of deaths, but a 50% increase in mortality for those aged 40-44 is extremely worrisome to actuaries and insurers even if the absolute number of deaths is lower in impact. We’re setting reserves and expectations based on certain assumptions, and we’re generally not assuming fluctuations of 50% — that’s just nuts compared to our historical experience…..
What’s interesting about the Senate age distribution is that though we have some difference in the lumpiness, when I look at the average age of the senators by party, they’re basically the same: 64 years old (and some change). On the younger end of the Boomers.
As you can see from the annotation on the graph, so far there have been 2% more deaths reported in 2021 compared to 2020. You can see that there had been a spike of deaths at the beginning of 2021, then a quiet spring/early summer. I did not extend my graph into 2022, but the heightened mortality of later/summer fall into winter has continued into winter at the beginning of 2022.
For the record, the 1% increase in deaths from 2018 to 2019 was pretty common before, driven by regular growth of the aging population of the U.S.
The rates are per 100,000 people for the year, but the point is who has the highest, and we see that the answer is:
For 2019: age 85+
For 2020: age 20-24
I threw in the age 15-19 group as ringers, by the way. When we get to all the age groups, they’re not even #4 in the ranking.
Just in that little table, you can see that the rates went up for the youngsters and dropped for the seniors. Think about why that might be.
As noted in my polling question, I’m not adjusting for the number of miles driven, and I’m not going to dig for that data now. But would you like to make some assumptions about the driving habits of these different groups? Especially during the pandemic?
The research showed that the rate at which older workers left employment increased dramatically during the pandemic.
This was especially the case with women — an 8-percentage-point increase vs. 7 points for men; Asian Americans — a 13-point increase; those with less than a college degree — a 10-point increase; and workers with occupations that did not lend themselves to remote work.
There was one exception: Workers 70 and older were 5.9 percentage points more likely to leave the workforce and retire. The study noted that these workers were likely already receiving Social Security benefits, so claiming did not markedly increase.
Among all workers 55 and older, the monthly claiming rate for Social Security benefits remained constant between April 2019 and June 2021, the researchers found.
I present the rates in percentages, as opposed to the more traditional number (which is per 100,000 people per year), because I do not want people to get this confused with the raw counts of people who died. Yes, that does mean there are a lot of small numbers. For children, I even had to extend some out to 4 decimal places to get a significant figure.
In adulthood, natural causes of death tend to increase in rate with increasing age. More below.
External causes (accidents, homicides, and suicide) will have the similar rates over broad ages but drop dramatically in ranking with increasing age — as the natural causes become more likely to occur.
COVID has a similar pattern in mortality as heart disease — indeed, the heart disease death rate is approximately twice that of the COVID death rate for the entire age range from 15 to 85+ on the table.
The average age of cars on the road keeps going up, and as these cars get older they are becoming less suited to the drivers most likely to own them. A new study from the IIHS says that older drivers are at much greater risk of getting hurt or killed in their so-called “retirement cars.”
According to the study, drivers 70 and over are sticking with their older cars, which lack modern safety features. As driver age goes up, so does the likelihood of death in accidents by some pretty staggering figures. Drivers who are over 75 are four times as likely to die in a side-impact crash, and three times as likely to die in a frontal crash than drivers who are middle-aged, per the IIHS.
So what the chart in the tweet linked above is really showing is that, within the 10-59 age band, the average unvaccinated person is much younger than the average vaccinated person, and therefore has a lower death rate. Any benefit from the vaccines is swamped by the increase in all-cause mortality rates with age.
I have mocked up some illustrative numbers in the table below to hopefully show Simpson’s Paradox in action here. I’ve split the 10-59 age band into 10-29 and 30-59. Within each group the death rate for unvaccinated people is twice as high as for vaccinated people. However, within the combined group this reverses – the vaccinated group have higher death rates on average!
I and others have written to ONS, altering them to the concerns that this data is causing. It appears from a new blog they have released that they are aware of the issue and will use narrower age bands in the next release.
Author(s): Stuart Macdonald
Publication Date: 22 Nov 2021
Publication Site: COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group