Retirement & Financial Planning Report

The trend toward working longer—or at least hoping to work longer—has been continuing, although differences by gender remain, according to a report by the Sloan Center on Aging and Work.

Overall, the proportion of those age 55-64 who are working or seeking work increased from 56 to 65 percent between 1990 and 2010, while the percentage among those 65 and older increased from 12 to 17 percent. The total of 40.2 percent is the highest level since 1975.

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That’s a major reversal from what had been the trend of those at or near retirement age in the two decades up to the mid-90s, when the percentage of all those age 55 or older who were still in the labor force fell from about 37 percent in 1975 to about 29 percent, before starting to climb.

By gender, about 46 percent of men age 55 or older are in the labor force, still a bit below the 1975 level of 49 percent, but the roughly 36 percent of women is a record high. That includes an increase of nearly half among women age 60-64.

“The average age at retirement is now rising and projected to increase in the future, particularly for women,” said the report.

For example, the average age of retirement for men in 1976 was 65, which declined to a low of 62 in 1993, before starting to rise again and it now is back to 65. For this purpose, “retirement age” was defined as the point at which less than half of the people that age are still in the labor force.

“Employers are recognizing that changing patterns of work and retirement will have implications for their businesses, but many report that they need to be making more progress on age diversity initiatives. There also is uncertainty about what initiatives would be most effective in mitigating potential problems,” it added.