The healthcare sector has benefited from an aging baby boomer population, which has pushed up demand for its services even in a recession. The healthcare and social assistance sector has added more than a half-million jobs since December 2007, according to Labor Department data. Atlantic, for instance, has added staff for its new emergency room and its new Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute, which opened earlier this year. Atlantic even taps retired workers through its "1,000 Hour Club," which allows retirees to work up to 999 hours in a year and retain their retirement benefits.
Employers in other fields have launched similar initiatives. The federal stimulus package spurred a sudden uptick in staffing needs at government agencies. The NIH earlier this year sent out a letter asking recent retirees if they'd be interested in coming back for a temporary period. "We needed people who were experienced and knew how the system works," says Philip Lenowitz, deputy director of human resources at NIH. About a quarter of those who received the letter responded in the affirmative. And back at Cornell, school officials are working to create an employment service that would find retirees paid work at the school and in the community to augment their pensions. After all, those 400 workers who opted for the retirement incentive took 11,000 years of experience with them—simply too much to let go.