Data Confirms American Workers Intend to Work Longer

December 9, 2011 ( – According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), data from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Survey shows American workers plan to work longer and some expect never to retire. 

The EBRI reports the data suggests the trend may be tied to the recent economic recession.

In 2006 (just before the recent recession), 11.2% of workers age 50 or over expected to retire at age 70, but by 2010 (after the recession had officially ended) that had increased to 14.8%. Even at higher ages, the expected retirement age has jumped. Just 1.7% of workers age 50 or over planned to retire at age 80 in 2006, while that more than tripled to 5.2% in 2010, EBRI found.

Expected retirement at earlier ages (62 and 65) also steadily declined over the four-year period of 2006‒2010, the study found.

“The general trend shows that older Americans are expecting to retire later,” said Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the study. “But the most striking finding is that nearly 20% of the sample expects never to stop working and more than 15% of the sample don’t know when they are going to retire.”

In addition, in 2008, during the recession, 22.4% of the workers age 50 or over said they plan to never retire. That declined to 16.3% in 2010. Over the 2006–2010 period, another 14%–18% of workers said they don’t know when they will retire.

Full results are published in the December 2011 EBRI Notes, “Retirement Age Expectations of Older Americans Between 2006 and 2010,” online at The EBRI study examines data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey on how the expected retirement ages of older Americans changed during the period of 2006–2010, covering the periods just before, during and after the recent economic recession.