Half of older workers are delaying retirement plans

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Monday finds older Americans not only are delaying their retirement plans, they're also embracing the fact that it won't necessarily mark a complete exit from the workforce.
By MATT SEDENSKY Published: October 15, 2013
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— There was a time when Tom Sadowski thought he'd stop working after turning 65 earlier this year. But he's put off retirement for at least five years — and now anticipates continuing to do some work afterward.

In an illuminating sign of changing times and revised visions of retirement, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Monday finds older Americans like Sadowski not only are delaying their retirement plans, they're also embracing the fact that it won't necessarily mark a complete exit from the workforce.

Some 82 percent of workers 50 and older say it is at least somewhat likely they will work for pay in retirement. And 47 percent of them now expect to retire later than they previously thought — on average nearly three years beyond their estimate when they were 40. Men, racial minorities, parents of minor children, those earning less than $50,000 a year and those without health insurance were more likely to put off their plans.

Multiple factors

About three-quarters of respondents said they have given their retirement years some or a great deal of thought. When considering factors that are very or extremely important in their retirement decisions, 78 percent of workers cited financial needs, 75 percent said health, 68 percent their ability to do their job and 67 percent said their need for employer benefits such as health insurance.

The shift in retirement expectations coincides with a growing trend of later-life work. Labor force participation of seniors fell for a half-century after the advent of Social Security, but began picking up in the late 1990s. Older adults are now the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce; people 55 and up are forecast to make up one-fourth of the civilian labor force in 2020.

That growth has paralleled a rising interest in retirements that are far more active. Among those who retired, 4 percent are looking for a job and 11 percent are already working again. Those still on the job showed far greater interest in continuing to work: Some 47 percent said they are very or extremely likely to do some work for pay in retirement and 35 percent said they are somewhat likely.