Retirees Are Heading Back to Work En Masse, And Here’s Why

Nearly one in five US retirees returned to the workforce, Pew Research found in their late 2023 survey. Though, for the most part, their reasons are financial, it is not all about the money. 

Quite the jump 

The survey found that the number of those who “un-retired” is double that of those who were working 35 years ago. On the upside, retirees in their 60s and 70s who returned to the workforce also have better wages. They now earn $22 per hour on average, compared to $13 per hour in the late 1980s. 

Helping hand 

One 74-year-old Ed Rooch revealed to Scripps News that he worked in Silicon Valley until a decade ago. Now, he’s an employee at Ace Hardware because he found that retirement was not for him, and he loves it. The senior revealed he was always handy, and each day at work brings new challenges. 

Older workers are happier 

A previous Pew Research study found that 2/3 of employees over 65 are satisfied with their jobs. They also had better relationships with managers, and among all age groups, they were most likely to find their jobs fulfilling. The least satisfied workers were those aged 18 to 29. 

Good for business

Hiring older workers has been proven to be a good business move for companies, as Callum Borchers of the Wall Street Journal noted in his column in April 2023. He cited a Wall Street Journal-NORC survey that found 75% of people 65 and older said hard work was significant to them personally, compared to 61% of those between 18 and 29.

Ages 55 and up are the fastest-growing group in the workforce

We are approaching a demographic shift in which those near the retirement age are the fastest-growing group in the workforce. AARP, previously known as the American Association of Retired Persons, created programs to help people find jobs despite their age. The organization recognized that some are re-entering the workforce due to inflation. Seniors complained that their monthly Social Security checks were insufficient for a decent life. 

Almost half of retirees returned to jobs over finances 

About half, or 48%, of people working in retirement said they needed to for financial reasons. Among them, 49% were women, while 41% were men, report from an investment management firm T. Rowe Price. And though nearly half said they returned to work over money, only 18% claimed they had to. 

Other reasons for un-retiring 

  1. Rowe Price’s study further found that 45% of those re-entering the workforce did it for social or emotional benefits. Men claimed they needed social connections more than women: 34% compared to 25%. Interestingly, senior workers found their jobs less stressful and overwhelming than their younger coworkers, especially those aged 18 to 29. 

Despite all their positive sides, older workers face ageism 

AARP’s Carly Roszkowski confirmed that age discrimination can hurt someone’s chances of getting a job. She added that to avoid getting the job you want, highlight your strengths and recent experiences and leave out dates whenever possible. 

Good to know 

Roszkowski counted some minor things you can do to make yourself look more presentable. For example, you can switch to Gmail instead of AOL and create a LinkedIn profile. Fighting age discrimination is an uphill battle, but with the rising number of older workers, things could change for the better. 

Fighting ageism 

Though ageism is alive and well, the  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shared some good news. Age discrimination complaints dropped 45% between 2011 and 2021. While some percent of it was because it was challenging to prove ageism, there are obvious signs of improvement, though it is still far from perfect. 

Many re-entered the workforce after COVID 

Many retirees returned to work after experiencing loneliness and isolation during the COVID-19 emergency. With the rise of inflation and prices, it seemed like a good option to get paid, make connections, and feel valued. 

The future is looking gloomy 

Workers will still get Social Security benefits after the fund’s reserves are exhausted in 2034. However, future retirees may only receive 78% of their total benefits. Congress must pass legislation to solve the long-term funding issue for Social Security. 


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