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Majority of Americans Plan to Continue Working in Retirement

New survey highlights the rise of unretirees

Employees age 65 and older currently make up the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce. In fact, according to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade, the majority of Americans age 40 and older plan to continue working in a paid position after retiring. Often with a longer lifespan in mind, some are continuing to work to help make financial ends meet, while others are doing it to stay busy and keep their minds sharp.

“Gone are the days of retirement being seen as an essential, defined life stage, where an employee could expect to work for a company long-term and be taken care of after retiring,” said Christine Russell.

“Gone are the days of retirement being seen as an essential, defined life stage, where an employee could expect to work for a company long-term and be taken care of after retiring,” said Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade. “As the workplace landscape continues to evolve, Americans are going to need to make an assessment about what their retirement trajectory may actually look like, and plan accordingly.”

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The rise of the unretiree

Many unretirees, those who plan to continue working in retirement or have gone back to work after retiring, plan to work 20 hours per week or more.

  • When it comes to working in a paid position after retiring, more Americans in their 40s and 50s are planning to work than those in their 60s and 70s:
    • Ages 40-49: 92%
    • Ages 50-59: 86%
    • Ages 60-69: 66%
    • Ages 70-79: 52%
  • On average, those in their 40s and 50s plan to work 20 hours per week in a paid position after retiring, and even those in their 70s plan to keep working 10 hours per week.
  • Americans age 40 and older are not only looking for paid work after retiring, they’re also looking to volunteer: 46% have volunteered or would consider volunteering at a non-profit/community center after retiring.
  • Many are investigating mini-retirement breaks and “unretirement” options:
    • More than half (53%) would rather work longer in their lifetime and have small one-year mini-retirement breaks than work without a break until retirement
    • Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) have done or would consider intermittent retirement

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What forces are driving unretirees?

  • Almost 4 in 10 Americans in their 40s (37%) and 50s (37%) plan to continue working in retirement even if there is no financial need.
  • The leading motivational factor for unretirees to continue working in retirement is to stay mentally fit:
    • To keep mind sharp: 72%
    • To keep from being bored: 67%
    • Make ends meet financially: 59%
    • Social interaction with others: 58%
    • Challenge themselves intellectually: 46%
  • Three in 10 retirees (29%) say they lost a sense of their identity when they stopped working.

The effects of living longer

Americans are living longer than previous generations, which is shifting their employment timelines, along with their spending and saving behaviors.

  • More than half (55%) of unretirees plan to continue working until the end of their lives.
  • Unretirees did or are planning to do the following before retirement to prepare for a potentially longer life span:
    • Reduce overall expenses to save more: 59%
    • Increase income outside of full-time job: 35%
    • Get help from a financial advisor on how to plan: 27%

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