NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Retirement: To Work or Not to Work?

May 24, 2013

Retirement in the traditional sense is falling by the wayside because of changes in culture and U.S. society, says the Fiscal Times.

In November 2012, a CareerBuilder survey found:

  • Sixty percent of workers age 60 and older said they'd look for a different job after retiring from their current employment -- an increase from 57 percent in 2011.
  • By 2018, it is estimated that 24 percent of the American workforce will be older than age 55, up from 18 percent in 2008.
  • That will make them the largest demographic of workers in the U.S. labor pool, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some seniors are staying at jobs after retirement age because they don't have enough money saved for retirement, but many are staying in the workforce by choice. The seniors who are staying in the workforce by choice are working because they find it personally rewarding and enriching. In part, medical advances have made working after old age easier. These advances have resulted in longer life expectancies:

  • Increased life expectancies mean the average man who retires at age 65 can expect to live 18 years in retirement, and the average woman can live in retirement 20 more years.
  • In the 1950s, the average retirement age was 67 years old, and men were expected to live about 11 years in retirement and women 14 years.

It is not that people are just expected to live longer, seniors are healthier than previous generations, and businesses are recognizing that fact. Businesses have responded to this societal change:

  • In 1971, 57 percent of American jobs were physically demanding and required heavy manual labor; by 2006 that was 46 percent.
  • CVS offers a "snowbird" program that allows workers to keep their job when they migrate seasonally between two places, as many retired individuals only want a part-time job.

Many older individuals are building on the want for schedule flexibility by creating their own companies. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that individuals ages 55 to 64 had the highest rates of entrepreneurship. Seniors are helping build the economy and create economic growth that can help young individuals get jobs to create a better tomorrow.

Source: Steve Yoder, "Why Boomers Are Ditching Retirement to Go to Work," Fiscal Times, May 16, 2013.


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