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The Aging Workforce: More Than Half of Workers in their 60’s Plan to Delay Retirement

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Just two decades ago, in 1996, the number of people aged 60-64 who were actively employed stood at about 46 percent. Today that number is on the rise, projected to reach 60 percent by 2026. The trend is clear: older workers are putting off retirement and staying on the job longer.

We read about this phenomenon in this just-published article on the website of CNBC. “Despite the triple-digit gains in the stock market over the last nine years and its positive impact on Americans’ savings,” CNBC reports, “more than half of workers over age 60 said they are putting off retirement, a new survey shows.” The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll late in 2017, covered more than 800 workers across a wide range of professions. It revealed not only that more than half of older workers plan to keep working longer, but also that about 40 percent expect to still be working when they reach age 70.

According to CNBC, this is hardly a new trend: the number of older workers has actually been on the rise for years. Back in 1996, for example, about 22 percent of those in the 65-69 age group were working – a number that is projected to hit 37 percent by 2026. The percentage of adults in the 70-plus age sector still actively employed will have roughly doubled from 1996 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, increasing to nearly 23 percent of 70-to-74-year-olds and 11 percent of those 75 and older by the middle of the coming decade. That’s a huge number of older men and women choosing to remain on the job.

Saving Less, Working Longer

Savings rates – or rather the lack of a nest egg – make up part of the reason some are putting off retirement. Says CNBC, “Roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Unlike the generation that came before them, many are relying solely on Social Security and their own savings to fund their retirement instead of also having a pension.” But therein lies a big part of the problem: according to separate research provided by Vanguard, the median 401(k) account balance for its customers age 65 and older is just over $60,000. Considering the rising cost of living, plus out-of-pocket medical costs which health care experts peg at $280,000 over the life of a 65-year-old couple retiring today, and it’s easy to see why so many older workers aren’t hanging up the tool belt or putting away the briefcase quite yet.

But there may be more to this story than simple lack of financial resources. Some think older workers are still affected emotionally as well as financially by the aftermath of the Great Recession of a decade ago.  That’s the view of Rosemary Haefner of CareerBuilder, who told CNBC, “I think some of this is residual anxiety. The recession wasn’t that long ago, and it changed the financial picture for a lot of people.” Haefner adds that many seniors are remaining in the labor force longer because “Some older workers might rather be safe than sorry.”  But there’s also a brighter upside to this putting off retirement picture: as CNBC says, some older workers might also be delaying retirement for the simple reason that they like their job. “They might be feeling more valued by their employer than they did 20 years ago,” CareerBuilder’s Haefner says. “They have great institutional knowledge, and they’re great trainers and mentors. It’s a way they can stand out from their coworkers.”

Recognizing the Value of Experience

We found other sources that corroborate the notion that older workers are feeling the love from their employers. Last year this article was published on the corporate website of the financial services giant ADP that went even further in praise of older workers. “Baby boomers have incredible value to offer,” says the ADP report, “and many employers have realized this and have responded with targeted retention programs.” According to ADP, baby boomers often have “valuable tribal information” in the workplace that has not been “passed down to their younger peers,” and when these boomers retire that knowledge disappears. To stop the erosion of talent and the loss of valuable “tribal information,” ADP says, some firms have responded with innovative programs to help retain their aging workers. One national pharmacy allows older workers who are “snowbirds” to move south in the winter months and retain their jobs, working in Florida or Arizona pharmacies before returning to their northern homes (and jobs) in the spring. Another firm, this one in aerospace, gives retirees the option of working up to 1,000 hours per year at their old pay rate so they can phase into full retirement while still helping out the company. Hopefully firms that want to retain their baby boomer workforce will be open to similar creative solutions.

Of course, the decision on whether to be putting off retirement is a complex one, involving a highly individual and personal set of criteria. But one thing we here at AgingOptions see repeatedly is the number of people who think “financial planning” and “retirement planning” are one and the same. Not true! Financial planning is essential, but it is only one component of a truly comprehensive retirement plan like that offered by AgingOptions, a type of plan we call LifePlanning. A LifePlan does far more than answer the question, “When can I afford to retire?” It also deals with housing questions, such as “How can I plan today for my housing needs ten or twenty years from now?” It deals with medical insurance and long-term care issues to protect your health. A LifePlan considers legal issues to safeguard your estate. Finally, a LifePlan helps make certain that those closest to you understand your wishes and will honor them. Can you see how superior a LifePlan is to a mere financial plan?

We invite you to learn more, and get many of your questions answered, at a free LifePlanning Seminar with Rajiv Nagaich. These highly popular sessions take place at locations throughout the area, and there’s bound to be one coming soon that’s handy for you. For dates, times and locations of our currently-scheduled LifePlanning Seminars, visit our Live Events page where you can register online – or call us for assistance during the week.

You may plan to keep working for an extra five or ten years, but retirement can last twenty or thirty years or longer. Are you adequately prepared? You can be – with the power of an AgingOptions LifePlan. Age on!

(originally reported at

Photo Attribution: Scott Lewis on Flickr,




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