Older Americans want to work — so why aren’t they?

If given the choice, many older Americans would be willing to return to work.

Roughly two in five retirees said they would be open to going back to work if they could find a similar job in terms of pay, responsibilities and hours worked as their last one, according to a new working paper distributed by National Bureau of Economic Research.

And yet despite this willingness to continue working, two-thirds of older Americans go straight into full retirement, according to a separate report released in June. At the same time, the average retirement age is rising.

What do older Americans want?

• Nearly 60% of retirees said they would return to work if they had a more flexible schedule.

• One in five retirees would take an hourly wage reduction of more than 20% to get a job.

• 11% of people who transitioned directly to complete retirement looked for a new job.

The researchers in the report distributed by the NBER based their findings on more than 2,700 responses in an online survey of account holders by The Vanguard Group who are at least 55 years old and have at least $10,000 in their accounts with the company.

And when they got a new job?

• 38% of respondents had a “bridge job,” a short-term job before completely retiring.

• 80% of those with a “bridge job” sought one out, rather than it just falling into their laps.

• One-third of people who pursued a bridge job wanted less responsibility.

Why does this study matter?

Some economists have argued that America is staring down a major labor shortage as more baby boomers begin to enter retirement. As of 2007, 20% of the working age population in the U.S. was 65 or older. By 2050 that percentage is expected to increase to 40%. Meanwhile, the population of adults below retirement age has been growing at a much slower pace, creating concerns about the country’s ability to fill open jobs and to pay for retirees’ benefits.

Also see: Why temp work is not a safe bet

And more older Americans are being forced to continue working out of necessity. Women are 80% more likely to live in poverty past the age of 65 — which explains why today 15% of women 65 years and older are working, up from 8.6% in 1996.

Working later in life doesn’t just help make ends meet where finances are concerned — it’s also good for people’s health. Going straight into full retirement sparked a 15% to 16% increase in mobility issues and a 6% to 9% decrease in mental health in the six years following retirement, according a previous study distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

So what is keeping older Americans from finding work?

While the report’s data did not reflect the interests on behalf of employers, the researchers argue that older Americans who aren’t working are not necessarily choosing that fate. “We conclude that older Americans’ labor force participation near and after normal retirement ages is limited more by a lack of acceptable job opportunities or low expectations about finding them … than by unwillingness to work longer,” the researchers wrote.

Don’t miss: Get ready for senior Uber drivers — the gig economy and flexible jobs are part of retirement planning

Some have also said that companies may choose not to provide phased retirement options, which would allow older workers to transition to fewer hours, because of concerns of liability related to age discrimination. Ageism likely hampers those who are looking for a new job as well, even though older workers bring more years of experience with them.

Consequently, the researchers argued that more research is needed to determine why American employers appear unwilling to hire older Americans, particularly given that these individuals are flexible when it comes to how much they are paid and how often they work.

Filed in: Top News Tags: 

You might like:

The Wall Street Journal: Whitefish halts Puerto Rico power repairs over $83 million in unpaid bills The Wall Street Journal: Whitefish halts Puerto Rico power repairs over $83 million in unpaid bills
NewsWatch: This chart on research productivity is bad news for the stock market NewsWatch: This chart on research productivity is bad news for the stock market
How to talk to your family about bitcoin at Thanksgiving dinner How to talk to your family about bitcoin at Thanksgiving dinner
Market Extra: Bitcoin breaks $8,000 milestone and keeps on rising Market Extra: Bitcoin breaks $8,000 milestone and keeps on rising
The Wall Street Journal: Justice Department sues AT&T, Time Warner over potential merger The Wall Street Journal: Justice Department sues AT&T, Time Warner over potential merger
The Wall Street Journal: Shares of Outback Steakhouse parent surge after Jana discloses large stake The Wall Street Journal: Shares of Outback Steakhouse parent surge after Jana discloses large stake
One major way U.S. credit-card debt is getting worse One major way U.S. credit-card debt is getting worse
Amazon’s sketchy health products could hurt its big pharmacy ambitions Amazon’s sketchy health products could hurt its big pharmacy ambitions

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment
© 2017 Stock Investors News. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.