Dramatic shift in retiree numbers in USA

With a population of 300 million, demographers in the United States don’t just talk about ‘boomers’ they have also defined a subset called ‘early boomers’, which refers to those born between 1946-1955 and currently aged 55 and 64. A recent report into the retirement intentions of this group shows a dramatic 25% increase in those who will still be working as they approach age 70. But is this from desire or financial necessity?

Director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, Sandra Timmermann, commented that this group was better educated than previous generations and are “apt to find a welcoming employment market”. It is also noted that their financial obligations will encourage many to stay in the workforce, some indefinitely. Many are unable to retire as they had anticipated because of debt from college education for their children, borrowing against their homes and as they expect to live longer they fear they will outlive savings which have been affected by low interest rates and poor stock market performance.

Understanding that baby boomers are not an homogenous group, and researching the sub segment of 55-64 year olds makes a lot of sense. Not only does this group have a similar experience of teenage years, early and mid adulthood, but they are also at the pointy end of the workplace – able to ‘retire’, but generally unwilling to make the leap. The findings that many wish to work on, for reasons of self-fulfillment, are not surprising. That most need to work on for reasons financial is also evident. How employers can used new workplace flexibilities to encourage mature workers to renegotiate their positions and stay longer is the real trick.

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