Most of retired boomers are not currently working for pay in retirement. According to a new study commissioned by Bankers Life Centre for a Secure Retirement® (CSR), a surprising number (48%) would like to work but cannot, due to their own health reasons (35%), the health of a loved one (5%) or because they can’t find a job (8%).
The study titled, “New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers” surveyed 1,005 middle-income boomers and 2,293 retired boomers aged 51 to 69 with an annual household income between $25,000 and $100,000.
A majority (69%) of retired boomers say they would have liked to have worked longer but find that they retired earlier than expected. Among those, nearly eight in 10 (79%) retired early for reasons that were not in their control, such as a personal health situation (39%), being laid off (19%) or could no longer perform their job (6%).
Meanwhile, many retired Boomers who are in a position to continue working is doing so for reasons beyond just pay. Most Boomers look for more flexible work arrangements and scheduling, and many try new career paths in different industries.
Employment now part of the retirement experience
One third (28%) of retired Boomers are either currently employed or have been employed for pay during retirement. Of those currently working, more than six in 10 (61%) say they are working because they want to work, not because they have to work. In contrast, more than seven in 10 (71%) non-retired Boomers say they are working because they have to work.
While money is the top singular reason for continuing to work for many employed retirees, six in 10 (59%) work for non-financial reasons, including to stay mentally alert (18%), to remain physically active (15%), to have a sense of purpose (14%) or to stay socially connected to others (7%). Furthermore, half (49%) expect to work beyond age 70 or as long as their health will allow.
Flexibility trumps pay for working retirees
Boomers are willing to work for less money in retirement. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of employed retirees report that their per hour compensation in retirement is less than before retirement, with more than half (53%) reporting their hourly compensation now is much less than before retirement.
However, working Boomer retirees’ trade reduced compensation for the increased employment flexibility that retirement offers. Nearly nine out of 10 (88%) employed Boomer retirees have work arrangements other than full time, including part time (59%), freelance (18%) or seasonal (7%).
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Positive impacts of working in retirement
Despite lower compensation, working Boomer retirees say they are happier and more satisfied with their job than non-retirees. An overwhelming 78 percent are just as satisfied as or more satisfied with their job now than they were with their job before retiring. One-third (32%) respondents report being much more satisfied now.
Compared to non-working retirees, employed retirees report lower stress levels, better relationships and other positive impacts.
“Consider work in retirement, even if it is only part time,” said Scott Goldberg, president of Bankers Life. “Because we are living longer into our retirement years, the financial and health benefits of working longer can enhance the retirement experience.”
For middle-income Boomers, retirement is now a time of increased flexibility when it comes to employment. For Boomers, flexibility in employment can include fewer hours; working because they want to work and not because they have to; and less emphasis on pay and climbing the company ladder. Increased flexibility is why many employed middle income boomers. Boomers consider themselves retired even though they’re still working.
Work doesn’t drive where retired Boomers choose to live
Though it remains important, in retirement work plays a less central role in the lives of middle-income Boomers. For example, work does not drive where working Boomer retirees choose to live in retirement.
Less than one in 10 (8%) employed retirees moved to a different city or town to find suitable work in retirement. In contrast, more than twice as many (22%) non-retired middle-income Boomers have moved for work reasons.
For more than half (53%) of employed middle-income Boomer retirees, being able to stay in their existing home is their primary consideration for choosing where to live in retirement. Being able to find work was the primary consideration when choosing where to live for less than 1% of retired middle-income Boomers.
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