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Are Seniors Shielding U.S. From Recession?

America’s aging population is one reason consumer spending has remained robust even as the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: As of August, a record 17.7% of the U.S. population was 65 or older.

  • Senior citizens, whose finances tend to be relatively robust, “accounted for 22% of spending last year, the highest share since records began in 1972 and up from 15% in 2010,” according to Labor Department data cited by the Journal. 

Why it’s important: “Our large share of older consumers provides a consumption base in times like today when job growth slows, interest rates rise and student-debt loan repayments begin again,” Susan Sterne, chief economist at Economic Analysis Associates, told the news outlet.

Longer lives, more spending: In addition to living longer, the elderly are more active than ever before, spending on traveling, hiking, cruises, e-bikes and more.

  • “The average household led by someone age 65 and older spent 2.7% more last year than in 2021, adjusted for inflation, according to the Labor Department, compared with 0.7% for under-65 households.”

Recession buffer: Baby boomers have amassed more than $77 trillion in wealth, according to the Fed—and some economists say that money will help prevent an economic recession.

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