Is Retirement at 65 Ridiculous?
“Retirement at 65 is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.” — George Burns
It seems that George Burns was onto something. More and more older Americans are working well past the traditional age of 65 and there is good reason.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall U.S. work force is projected to grow by an average annual growth rate of 0.5%. However, the participation growth rate for people 55 years and older is projected to be 1.8% — more than 3 times the average.
Why Working Past 65 a Good Thing
George Burns was famous for loving his job as a performer and kept working until just weeks before he died at age 100. So, if you love your job, don’t quit just because you turn 65. However, there are multiple other reasons for working past the traditional retirement age:
Retirement Now Lasts Much Longer than Before: It used to be that people retired only a few years before their death. These days it is extremely common for people to live 20 or 30 years in retirement. Some might argue that is too long — even longer than childhood and adolescence combined.
The Opportunity to Save More and Spend Less of Existing Savings: Working a little longer means that you have more time to save and you get the big bonus benefit of needing less in savings overall since you’ll be retired for a shorter period of time.
Boost Your Social Security Benefit: Social security benefits are based on your top 35 earning years. If you are earning more now than earlier in your career, then working past the traditional retirement age could insure a bigger Social Security check.
Work is Good for You: When it comes to your brain — conventional wisdom says: use it or lose it and working is an excellent way to stay mentally engaged. Work also keeps you on a schedule and interacting with friends and colleagues which is hugely important to your mental health.
A Sense of Purpose: When faced with the prospect of wide open days with nowhere to go, retirees must confront what to do and why. For some people, their existing work is their real purpose – they derive great pleasure and satisfaction from work and yet they don’t realize it until after they retire. Other people find that transitioning to a new career gives them the most satisfaction
You Need the Money: The majority of households in the United States have not planned sufficiently for retirement. If this is you, working a little longer could be the best path toward a secure future.
Older Workers in Demand
Though job opportunities do decline for workers changing jobs after age 50, the employment opportunities are reasonably similar to opportunities for prime-age workers, a Boston College study found.
“People are seeing that the skillset of an older person is much more valuable than they realize,” says Peter Creedon, CEO of Crystal Brook Advisors, located in New York, N.Y. “They may not have the hustle of a 20 year old, but they’ve been there, done that and have made plenty of mistakes, but know how to get the job done.”
And there’s more good news for working in retirement: what some would consider “old person” jobs (which are defined by Boston College researchers as occupations with a certain hiring ratio), pay no less than other jobs. In fact, Brookings Institute and CPS research finds that workers between 60 and 74 are currently paid more in hourly wages than an average worker who is between 25 and 59.
So, What Kinds of Jobs Do the 65+ Crowd Have?
There are no limits on work for people over 65. Older people do all kinds of amazing and surprising things.
However, there are distinct trends for the kinds of jobs held by Americans over 65. Research compiled by Zippia, published in their article, the jobs you’ll work when you retire, looks at these trends from two different perspectives:
Jobs with the highest percentage of workers 65+: The top 10 jobs that have the highest percentage of workers who are 65 or older are an odd mix:
- Motor vehicle operators (49% of all people in this profession are 65+)
- Embalmers and funeral attendants (44% are 65+)
- Crossing guards (39% are 65+)
- Models, demonstrators and product promoters (32% are are 65+)
- Tax preparers (32% are 65+)
- Religious workers (27% are 65+)
- Ushers, lobby attendants and ticket takers (27% are 65+)
- Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers (27% are 65+)
- Bus drivers (27% are 65+)
- Proofreaders and copy markers (27% are 65+)
Jobs with longevity for workers over 65: And, of the jobs being worked by people who are over 65, the careers that have the oldest average age are highly skilled professions — mostly requiring years of specialized education and benefiting from years of experience:
- Elementary, middle land high school teachers (Of the teachers over 65, 70 is the average age)
- Postsecondary teachers (Of the professors over 65, 71 is the average age)
- Miscellaneous Managers (Of these professionals over 65, the average age is 71)
- Lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial (Of the legal workers over 65, 71 is the average age.)
- Chief executives and legislators (Of these professionals over 65, 71 is the average age)
- Accountants and auditors (Of these financial workers over 65, 71 is the average age)
- Registered nurses (Of nurses over 65, 70 is the average age)
- Physicians and surgeons (Of the doctors over 65, 72 is the average age)
- Retail salespersons (Of the salespeople over 65, 71 is the average age)
- Management analysts (Of the analysts over 65, 71 is the average age)
How Long Should You Work?
Creating and maintaining a retirement plan is critical to your financial well being — whether you are working and delaying your retirement or already completely retired.
And, from a financial perspective, a detailed and completely personalized retirement plan is also the best way to figure out how long you should work.
Do you know what your financial needs are? Now? Twenty years from now? The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator is an easy to use but highly detailed resource that lets you create your own retirement plan and keep it updated. You can input different income and expense levels for various time periods.