The new face of retirement is looking more and more like the old face of going to work every day.
A new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor employment data found that the number of and percentage of Americans age 65 and older who are still working is higher now than at any time since the turn of the century. Today’s older workers are delaying retirement and working more years than workers previously did, Pew found.
In May, 18.8 percent of Americans ages 65 and older, or nearly 9 million people, reported being employed full- or part-time, continuing a steady increase that Pew has been tracking since 2000. In May of 2000, just 12.8 percent of 65-and-older Americans, or about 4 million people, said they were working.
The big question, of course, is why.
For one, longevity has increased -- although not uniformly across income groups, race and gender. But overall, with longer -- and healthier -- lives, some older workers see no upside to leaving jobs that they still enjoy. There is also the worry that they could outlive their retirement savings if they start collecting their benefits too soon. The attitude among many is "I might as well work as long as I can."
Not only are more older Americans working, more of them are working full-time, Pew also found. In May 2000, 46.1 percent of workers ages 65 and older were working fewer than 35 hours a week (the BLS’ cutoff for full-time status). The part-time share has fallen steadily, so that by last month only 36.1 percent of 65-and-older workers were part-time.
Pew found that older Americans work in the various economic sectors in similar patterns as the workforce as a whole, with few exceptions. But they are more likely to be found in management, legal and community/social service occupations than the overall workforce, and less likely to be in computer and mathematical, food preparation, and construction-related jobs.
Staying actively employed and performing vital tasks clearly have benefits -- financial and emotional.