The new retirement

The traditional model of retirement – working at the same career, even the same company, for decades and taking a gold watch at age 65 – has gone the way of the horse and buggy for many folks. It’s been replaced by a new retirement, which requires major adjustment but also presents new opportunities.

Unlike traditional retirement, workers today are forced to be more active in planning their transition out of the workforce. Their retirement is no longer predictable and planned out in advance.

Many organizations have sought to cut costs by reducing the ranks of older, more highly paid workers and replacing them with more junior employees. Although age discrimination is technically unlawful, layoffs among 50- and 60-somethings have become commonplace. Most such workers find it hard to find new positions to replace the ones they lost.

Many are viewing this as an opportunity to explore new career paths and are choosing to work part-time for a few years before hanging it up for good. About 35 percent of Americans are working full time at age 62 and about 14 percent part-time, according to the National Institute on Aging. At age 68, 13 percent work full time and 19 percent work part-time. Part-time work allows many to leave the stress or drudgery of their old jobs behind to pursue new interests.

Part-time employment gives you more flexibility than you had before, since you can now arrange your work schedule around your life. It also allows you to bring in income to make up for the loss of a job.

Those who do remain at their companies often have more choice than before. Although many companies no longer offer pensions, they also no longer require employees to retire at a certain age. So workers have the option to work longer if they choose, or to take early retirement and explore new occupations.

Increasingly, many seniors are redefining what it means to be retired. More and more are choosing to open businesses or take a series of part-time jobs. This gives them the opportunity to remain productive, stay connected to society, and supplement their retirement savings.

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