Planning to work in retirement? There’s something you need to know

older worker

Many workers plan to continue working in their retirement years. A 2015 poll by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies that two-thirds of workers age 50 or over plan to work beyond age 65 or don’t even plan to retire at all. But is working beyond retirement age a realistic plan? The numbers suggest maybe not.

Current retirees in the Transamerica survey said they retired at a median retirement age of 62, and the majority (61 percent) retired before age 65. Clearly, most workers retire before they expect. The main reason for leaving the workforce early is poor health: over one-third (39%) of retirees experienced a health shock. Over 20% had to leave to care for a parent or spouse, and 8% got laid off and couldn’t get another job.

These numbers indicate that postponing retirement and just staying in your present occupation may not be a viable option. You can increase your financial security by working in retirement, but it will take some planning. Even if you aren’t forced to leave because of health issues or taking care of family members, your job may disappear.

A study by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College found that the numbers of positions in “middle-skill” employment, which includes professional sales, industrial production and repair, operators and fabricators, and skilled administration, protective and personal services, have declined in recent years. These positions account for the largest percentage (41.1%) of all jobs and decreased by 11.6% between 1990 and 2013. Low-skill jobs like retail sales, personal care and services, food preparation, and manual labor increased by 5.2%, and high-skill positions such as managers and executives, doctors, accountants, and engineers rose by 6.4% during the same period.

If you plan to continue working in retirement, here are some things you can do:

1. Protect your health so that you can retain the physical and cognitive abilities needed for your job. Also encourage your spouse to stay healthy, so you won’t have to leave to take care of him or her.

2. If you’re in one of the middle-skill positions, seek out training and experience that will help you upgrade your skills and retain your employability.

3. Look for ways to increase your savings and lower your living expenses so you can accept a lower-paying position if necessary.

The CRR found that about half of all workers changed jobs after age 50, and the percentage of workers who changed to a new employer in their 50s has increased significantly since the early 1980s. Of older workers who switched to lower skill positions, only half did so involuntarily; many of the rest were the result of changing from full-time to part-time work.

Here are some part-time jobs that are popular among retirees.

1. Retail. Many retail positions offer the flexible hours and low stress which many retirees are seeking. Working in a golf or tennis pro shop, bookstore, or museum can help retirees stay up to date in fields they’re interested in and maintain social contacts while earning income.

2. Driving. Many retirees have satisfying part-time work driving a shuttle for a hotel or car dealership or school bus. Newer companies like Lyft and Uber enable drivers to set their own hours and give rides in their personal vehicles.

3. Tutoring. Offering tutoring services in math, science, English, or other subjects at a local school or community college, or privately allows retirees to share their knowledge, and life experiences, with younger generations. The Internet opens the opportunity to offer tutoring online by video conference and email.



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