Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Those interested in continuing to work at older ages—a trend that has been under way for the last 30 years–may find their options more limited due to a mismatch between the number of such people and the jobs that will be available for them, a report has said.

The Center for Retirement Research report showed that the “labor force participation rate” for those age 55 to 70 rose from just above 40 percent to just below 60 percent in that period.
That increase “has been an encouraging sign for those worried about retirement security, as postponing retirement is one of the best ways of ensuring that individuals have sufficient savings after leaving the labor market,” it said.

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While the report did not specifically examine the federal government, the trend also exists there, with about 15 percent of the workforce still on the job beyond their retirement eligibility date. Further, many federal employees who retire at or soon after their first eligibility do so with the expectation or hope of taking new employment elsewhere.

The report said, though, that “the fly in the ointment” of such planning is that “future prospects for working longer could be constrained by two factors. First, workers’ ability to do their jobs may be limited by the very process of aging. Second, people can only work when firms are willing to hire them.”

Regarding the first point, it said that prospects are better for those with higher levels of education, who tend to be in less physically demanding occupations.

“With respect to employer demand, research generally finds that employers say they want to hire older workers for a range of jobs, despite moderate concern about their productivity and more significant concern about their relative cost. However, expressing a willingness to hire and actually hiring are differ¬ent things, and the perceptions about cost may help explain the persistence of age discrimination,” it said.

Looking at projections of employment trends through 2030, it found that “the occupations currently employing many older workers are projected to grow relatively slowly”—more slowly than the growth in jobs overall. Such positions included, for example, managerial, business and financial operations, and other white-collar.

However, it also found that the picture for “jobs that older workers could do is more encouraging;” they are projected to grow at about the same rate as jobs overall.

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