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Baby Boomers Plan to Work in Retirement

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Man in retirement reading Boating magazineThe younger generations are hoping for a mass retirement in the next few years as Baby Boomers leave the work force, opening advancement opportunities for younger people. There’s a problem. The mass retirement may never happen. That article includes some generalizations about those approaching 60 years old and their attitudes towards retirement, and includes a few examples to illustrate the point.

Here are some reasons would-be retirees may be staying on the job:

* They like working. Labor is less manual than it used to be. Instead of back-breaking factory work, jobs call from wrist-straining emailing.
* They need purpose. Working for many people provides a sense of worth to the world.
* They want to remain mentally active. Some don’t like the idea of resting their brain.
* They need the money. They were counting on pensions that disappeared and haven’t had enough time to build up 401(k)s or similar plans. If they had, they may have been hit hard in the bear market of 2000-2001.

Here are some statistics about the reasons given for working longer:

[W]hen asked what will keep them in the work force, “money” wasn’t the main motivation reported in a 2006 Merrill Lynch survey of boomers. The more common reasons cited by those closest to the traditional retirement age were that work “will keep me mentally active,” (66 percent) and “will keep my physically active” (54 percent.) Money came in third, cited by 49 percent.

On a personal note, my parents are both approaching 60 years old. (Sorry to spill the beans if you happen to be reading this someday, Mom and Dad.) They’re both “thinking” about retirement, but its more of a wistful imagination rather than final preparation.

Published or updated December 4, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Terry Piatt

My menial, dead-end, minimum-wage job doesn’t provide me with a feeling of purpose or worth, it provides me with a feeling of worthlessness. Since I have no assets and negative net worth (student loan debt), I expect that retirement will never be an option for me.

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avatar Vulture

No need to worry about seniors retiring since they’ll likely become obsolete by the time they hit retirement age. Most jobs today require advanced education in multiple disciplines (e.g. computers & finance) that it’ll be unlikely seniors will be able to carry on. Add to it the fact that many industries have mandatory retirement (airline pilots, government jobs) then you can see an upcoming labor crunch.

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avatar Terry Piatt

Most government jobs don’t have a mandatory retirement age, they have cushy pensions that allow most people to retire comfortably earlier than 65.

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avatar saving advice

I sure hope that I have long retired before age 60. That is the plan at least…

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avatar Amy

My mom just found out that she is eligible for retirement now at 57. Her current job is making her work crazy hours at the moment, which is the only reason she even looked into it. When I suggested finding a job where she is working part time, she said she probably couldn’t afford to work part time because if she gets another job now, she probably won’t be able to make the money she is making now, so she needs her pension and another pay check.

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avatar SCapitalist

Retirement should be a time to follow your passion. Continue to work, but do what you love. You spent the last 40 years in a cubice (hopefully not), now go do something you enjoy. The sad truth is the last bullet point, many baby boomer will keep working because they need the money.

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avatar Patrick

It’s clear that working in retirement is going to be a reality for most of us (boomers and seniors). I was encouraged to find a helpful website the other day with an appropriate name:
RetirementJobs.com. They help people over 50 find work (full/part-time, even seasonal gigs) with employers who’ve been qualified as “age-friendly”.

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