Poll: Workers Plan on Staying Employed Way Past Age 65

September 23, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Nearly seven out of 10 older Americans in a new survey say they either won't retire or will simply find other work after retirement and nearly half indicate they plan to work into their 70s and beyond.

The AARP survey of 2,001 respondents between 50 and 70 years old found that 68% of those who have never retired from a job said they would keep punching in at a time clock during their retirement.

AARP researchers said what was unusual about the findings was respondents’ expectation of staying in the workforce for a decade or more. “What did surprise us is that people intend to work way past the traditional retirement age,” Jeff Love, AARP research director, told Reuters.

While pre-retirees and working retirees listed laudable objectives for staying in the workforce, when asked to specify one factor, the biggest chunk said they would keep working to continue receiving a paycheck.

Of those nearing retirement who plan to keep working, more than one in five (22%) said they would do so because they needed the money; 35% of working retirees gave the same response. Other reasons given by pre-retirees to keep working included:

  • need health benefits, 17%
  • stay mentally active, 15%
  • be productive, 14%
  • stay physically active, 9%
  • help other people, 6%
  • do something fun, 5%.

Among those who have already retired once but got another job – the “working retirees” – other reasons to keep working included:

  • be productive or useful, 14%
  • stay mentally active, 10%
  • stay physically active, 8%
  • help other people, 7%
  • do something fun, 5%.

Interestingly, the AARP poll found that more than a quarter (27%) of pre-retirees who plan to work in retirement anticipate doing so in a different field. One in five said they would get a professional position, 14% listed skilled or semi-skilled labor, 13% mentioned service and protective workers, and 11% said sales. The pre-retirees said they were interested specifically in teaching (6%), office support (4%), craft work (4%), retail sales (3%), and consulting (3%).

Being Ready for Coming Trends

AARP researchers said employers needed to stay aware of the trend of a steadily ageing workforce trend and to make certain that they are best positioned to take advantage of the available employees – particularly in fields appealing to older workers such as teaching, retail sales, consulting, nursing and health services. For example, companies need to provide training to all workers, regardless of age, AARP said.

Hiring managers should also not lose sight of the available expertise from workers who say their post-retirement job will be in the same field as their pre-retirement endeavor. Companies should also consider adding work/life balance programs to make it easier for older workers to stay employed. “The majority of older workers who don’t plan to work in retirement say that they would consider retirement work if their employer were to provide flexible scheduling options such as allowing them to set their own hours or phase into retirement,” AARP researchers pointed out.

A full copy of the AARP study, Staying Ahead of the Curve 2003: The AARP Working in Retirement Study” is available at http://research.aarp.org/econ/multiwork_2003.html .