More employees in America than ever before are working past the age of 65.
In fact, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that nearly 20% Americans over 65 find themselves still on the job, according to a recent article at boston.com. This is the largest portion of older people holding jobs since the early 1960s, in pre-Medicare times.
“That percentage, combined with the size of the baby-boom generation, makes for the most 65-and-over workers in history,” the article notes.
Working past traditional retirement age is a trend that at least two recent surveys indicate is likely to continue.
Twenty-three percent of workers recently surveyed by Willis Towers Watson indicate a need to work beyond age 70 “to live comfortably in retirement,” says planadviser.com, while 32% think they will have to retire later than they originally planned. Five-percent don’t see retirement in their future at all.
Further, “while the average U.S. employee expects to retire at age 65, they admit there is a 50% chance of working to age 70.”
Meanwhile, Gallup reports “three in 10 U.S. Workers Foresee Working Past Retirement Age.” Here, 31% of those currently employed intend to work past age 67; four of 10 retirees left work early (before age 62); and 26% of those 67 and older are either still working (14%).
There is no single explanation for this trend. Further, there are both pros and cons to working longer that seniors need to consider as they choose their retirement dates.
‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ –Confucius
“Anxieties about financial preparedness carry considerable weight… financial needs are cited as highly important in decisions about when to retire,” notes a study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Among the key findings in their research of an aging workforce:
To continue exploration of consumer sentiments, see a fact sheet from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “Expectations About Retirement.” Sixty-seven percent of employees will remain on the job in retirement with intent to work for pay, while only 27% of retirees say they have actually done so.
Most survey participants wanting to continue work give a positive reason: to stay active (82%), they like it (80%), or a job opportunity presented itself (49%).
Still, finances come into play: 57% “want money to buy extras,” a need to pay the bills (51%), devaluation of savings/investments (43%), or to maintain health insurance and other benefits (32%).
Do you know “Why So Many More Women Are Working Long Past the Age of Retirement”? According to time.com, currently one in seven women work beyond age 65, versus one in 12 who did so in 1992.
“By 2020, that figure will increase to nearly one in five—amounting to about 6.3 million workers,” the article notes.
Reasons that women stay on the job:
The good news is that because there are more dual-income households and because of equity found in stocks and real estate, “older Americans of both genders are in a better position financially than the generation that came before them.”
In 2013, households headed by those age 62+ enjoyed median net worth 40% above that of like households in 1989.
‘There is no substitute for hard work.’ --Thomas A. Edison
There are both positives and negatives associated with remaining on the job beyond traditional retirement age.
“Working Past Age 65 Is Linked To Longer Life,” says Tech Times. An Oregon State University study says work brings with it economic and social benefits to influence longevity.
“Healthy elderly people who worked a year past the traditional retirement age of 65 had an 11% lower mortality risk.”
The less healthy workers remaining on the job displayed a 9% lesser chance of dying. This is perhaps because “healthy people who worked longer encompassed an active body and mind,” the article says.
There are “Six Good Reasons You Shouldn’t Retire at 65,” according to Kiplinger:
On the other hand, there are seven “Hard Truths About Working Beyond Retirement Age,” according to interest.com.
Workers may not have the option to choose a retirement date due to layoffs or health problems. In fact, half of current retirees had to leave work before they wanted to, and half of them cited medical issues as the reason.
Other difficult realities:
‘Inspiration comes of working every day.’ –Charles Baudelaire, French poet
Ultimately, “Planning to Work Forever Isn’t a Savings Strategy,” notes the Society for Human Resource Management. The problem of not saving enough begins as workers start their first jobs. College debt is an issue and rents are high.
It may be a challenge for the current generation of seniors to decide whether to remain at work or to retire. Some, due to savings shortfalls, may feel they have no other options.
Financial security hangs in the balance in light of declining health or conflicting lifestyle preferences.
However, perhaps the younger set can take note of the circumstances of their grandparents and make efforts such that retirement choices are easier to make.
Work may be inspiring. But it’s also nice to take the time to smell the roses.