Retirees Are Being Forced to Return to the Workforce

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Apr 18, 2024

Americans typically work for around fifty years in hopes of acquiring enough savings to retire comfortably and enjoy the last chapter of their lives free from employment.

Yet, a new trend referred to as “unretiring” has seen nearly 20% of the nation’s older generations return to work in their 60s and 70s for a plethora of reasons, ranging from financial troubles to boredom.

The Average Retiring Age in the US

As of this year, the average American is expected to retire at 66 years old, according to Yahoo Finance.

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An older man is pictured seated on a park bench during the mid-afternoon

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However, for some of America’s oldest generations, shortly after their initial retirement, a feeling of unfulfillment sets in, and many begin to search for part-time employment.

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Older Generations Unretiring Across the States

The trend of older generations returning to the workforce after initially retiring has been coined “unretiring,” per The World Economic Forum.

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An older man is pictured seated at his desk as he works on a laptop

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This term refers to anyone who is “already eligible to claim pensions [and] are returning to work for a variety of reasons.”

Reasons Why Americans Are Unretiring

There are several reasons why many older people are choosing to return to the workforce, including high inflation, economic uncertainty, and falling government aid.

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An older woman is pictured seated at a desk in an office as she works

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However, others who initially retired for several years decided that full-time retirement wasn’t for them. They have since rejoined the workforce, seeking a part-time job for extra cash, fulfillment, and company.

Former Silicon Valley Employee Returns to Workforce

According to WCPO 9 Cincinnati, people like 74-year-old Ed Rooch retired for a few years but ultimately decided it wasn’t for him.

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An image of Apple's headquarters in Silicon Valley, California

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Rooch had formerly worked a computer job in Silicon Valley for most of his life before reciting over a decade ago. Now, he has taken on a 30-hour-a-week job at ACE Hardware.

Older Man Enjoys Working Later in Life

Regarding his job, Rooch says it has worked out perfectly for him as he was previously trained in it.

An older man is pictured at his work desk as he speaks with clients

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“Well, I’ve always been handy,” Rooch said. “So this seemed like a perfect fit.”

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New Challenges for Older Employees

Rooch went on to admit he enjoys working at his new job, even though it can be difficult from time to time.

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“It’s no pressure. But it’s also very challenging because everyone who comes in has a challenge,” he said.

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Recent Surge in Older Americans Returning to Work

According to figures from the Pew Research Center, nearly 20% of Americans aged 65 and older were employed last year.

An older female employee is pictured standing in a warehouse

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This figure has almost doubled since the late 1980s, suggesting the new trend of unretiring is likely motivated by financial reasons.

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Older Workers Experience Significant Pay Increase

While the number of older Americans working past retirement has surged in recent years, so has their minimum wage.

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In 1987, the average American over 65 was paid around $13 per hour. By 2022, this had increased to $22.

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Increased Interest in Older Employees

According to Carly Roszkowski of AARP, one reason why older Americans are returning to the workforce is centered on greater interest from potential employers.

An older woman is pictured speaking with her boss as she enjoys a coffee

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“We have seen an increased interest in hiring older workers nationally,” she said.

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Older Generations Happier With Their Jobs

A separate Pew Research Center survey also found that older generations who had returned to work were generally happier with their employment than their younger counterparts.

An older woman is pictured smiling at work

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The older generations even appear to find their jobs more fulfilling and enjoyable and claim to find them less stressful than younger workers.

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The Future of Unretiring

For whatever reasons, millions of former retirees have been returning to employment, even though they have reached the legal retirement age.

An image of an older man seated at his work desk

Source: Freepik

While many are finally motivated due to inflation, others like Ed Rooch simply decided they didn’t enjoy the retirement lifestyle and would rather work, stating, “It’s something to do, or I wouldn’t know what to do.”

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