Number of Working Seniors in Tompkins County Rising

Three out of ten senior citizens in Ithaca remain in the local workforce, according to the latest study by the Tompkins County Office for the Aging.

Pennie Small, 66, works in her office at Momentum Media in Ithaca. Small is among a growing number of Tompkins County seniors who are still employed full-time or part-time.

The survey conducted for the 2012 Needs Assessment for Tompkins County residents ages 60 and over also says more than 13 percent said they would like to be employed. This compares to a similar study by the Office for the Aging in 2004, which said about one out of four Tompkins County seniors were still employed and less than ten percent of non-working seniors saying they would still like to be employed.

The rising number of working seniors in Tompkins County is a direct result of the recent economic recession, said Lisa Holmes, director of the Tompkins County Office for the Aging.

“A number of individuals who were planning retirement are continuing to work longer than they thought they would,” Holmes said.

The study says working senior citizens tend to work in jobs such as manufacturing, administration, and food services.

“You can work in those jobs a lot longer than things like construction, that are harder on the body,” Holmes said.

Pennie Small, 66, is the business manager at Momentum Media Sports Publishing in Ithaca. She is not planning on retiring soon due to economic concerns, she said.

“One of my friends . . . was downsized to a half-time position, and was barely making money at all,” Small said. “I don’t know how she was affording to eat . . . and now she’s deciding to retire in January. I’m thinking, ‘how can you do that?’”

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