Retirement Was Actually a Sabbatical for 7 Million Americans

December 8, 2005 ( - A Putnam Investments survey has found that about seven million previously retired Americans have returned to work for pay after an average sabbatical of one-and-a-half years.

In its news release, Putnam said the working retired account for 10% of the US workforce age 40 and older. Among the survey respondents, 54% work part-time, 36% work full-time, and the remaining 10% are looking for work. Two-thirds said they planned to return to work following their first retirement.

Putnam found that the average household income of survey respondents, $87,000, is 60% higher than that of traditional non-working retirees, and the working retired are about twice as likely to have a college degree.

On average, the working retired have about $400,000 in investable assets. Seventy percent said they wish they had saved more and started saving sooner. But, in their working retirement, as a group they now save on average 11% of their total household income.

Two-thirds of survey respondents went back to work because they wanted to, while the other third felt like they had to for financial reasons. A large percentage for their age (60%) still carry a mortgage, and their home equity is relatively low. Average household investable assets for the workers who wanted to return to work are almost $550,000, compared to average investable assets of $140,000 for those who returned for financial reasons.

A large group of the workers who chose to go back to work expected non-financial rewards. Being healthier and more energetic was a motivator for close to half of the workers who chose to return to work, and they also saw it as a way to keep themselves in top mental form. By contrast these were motivations of less than one-third of those working from necessity. Forty percent of the workers who wanted to return to work, but only 16% of the workers who felt they had to return to work, thought working might be “fun.” The number of those who returned to work out of financial necessity who report being satisfied with retirement is only 16% of respondents, while 56% of those who returned to work because they wanted to report being satisfied.

Putnam’s research was based on a national survey of 1,726 retirees who are working; they have an average age of 61. More information on Putnam can be found at .