What are the Best and Worst States for Workers 65 and Over?

Happy senior couple outside in spring nature, hugging at sunset.
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Americans 65 and older are earning paychecks in record numbers these days, with 10.6 million currently in the workforce, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is expected to reach 16 million by 2030, with the number of workers 75 and older projected to nearly double between now and then, and the number of workers 65 and older expected to increase by about 42%.

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With so many older folks delaying their retirement plans — either because they like working, are taking advantage of remote work due to COVID-19, or simply need the money — many might wonder which parts of the U.S. are best and worst for older employees.

The Seniorly Research Center decided to find out. To arrive at an answer, it compared data from the Census Bureau, Tax Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for each state across five categories: labor force participation for older adults, income, taxes, healthcare and life expectancy.

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Among its key findings:

  • Wyoming had the best overall score, ranking in the top half for every category except life expectancy, where it ranked 30th. Wyoming levies no personal income tax, giving it a big leg up over the vast majority of other states. Another advantage is that more than 98% of Wyoming residents over 65 are on Medicare, eliminating the need for a company healthcare plan.
  • Kentucky came in last, mainly because it ranks at or near the bottom for life expectancy, income and labor force participation.
  • In Hawaii, 65% of households with a member over 65 earn more than $50,000 a year, which is the highest rate in the country.
  • In addition to Wyoming, seven other states collect no state income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. California has the highest median income tax rate.

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Here are the 10 states that ranked as the best for older workers, in order:

1.    Wyoming
2.    South Dakota
3.    Alaska
4.    Washington
5.    Vermont
6.    North Dakota
7.    Colorado
8.    Hawaii
9.    Virginia
10.  Nebraska

Here are the states that ranked at the bottom, from No. 41-50:

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41. Oklahoma
42. South Carolina
43. Mississippi
44.  Louisiana
45. North Carolina
46. Arkansas
47. New Mexico
48. Alabama
49. West Virginia
50. Kentucky

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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