Most Americans now think they will continue to work after they reach retirement age. Both financial and personal reasons have been factored into their decisions to delay retirement.
Some 80 percent of workers say they plan to work in retirement, according to a new Gallup poll of 534 employed adults age 18 and over. Slightly more of these workers will continue to work because they want to (44 percent) rather than because they have to (36 percent). “The significant percentage of workers who say they will continue working beyond retirement age because they want to suggests American workers may be less interested in a lifestyle free from work in their older years, regardless of their economic situation,” writes Jeffrey Jones, the author of the Gallup report.
Working part-time after retirement age (63 percent) is a much more popular choice than working full-time (18 percent) or stopping work altogether (18 percent). Employees who expect to work part-time are more likely to say they will continue to work in retirement because they want to (38 percent) rather than because they will need the income (24 percent). Those who expect to retire completely also primarily say they will leave their job because they want to.
But postponing retirement isn’t necessarily a choice for people who plan to work full-time in retirement. Those who expect to work full-time are twice as likely to say they will do so out of need rather than as a choice. “Changes in the payment of Social Security benefits in recent decades as well as many employers' moving away from guaranteed pensions for retirees in favor of employee-directed retirement savings plans in addition to the high cost of health care have altered the economic calculus of retirement,” says Jones.
Majorities of workers at all ages and income levels now expect to work in retirement. Households that earn $75,000 annually or more (23 percent) are somewhat more likely than middle and low income workers (13 percent) to plan to completely stop working. But a clear majority of each income group plans to remain employed during the traditional retirement years.
The expectation of some form of continued employment in retirement is a major departure from the experience of current retirees. Only 18 percent of current retirees say part-time work is a major (2 percent) or minor (16 percent) source of retirement income. But nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of current employees expect part-time work to be a major (22 percent) or minor (52 percent) part of their retirement finances. Current retirees say they left their jobs at an average age of 60, while workers expect to retire at an average age of 66.