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More Americans Are Saying No to Full-Time Retirement

The idea of retirement as a long vacation after 40 years on the job may be on its way out. More and more Americans are enjoying second acts and envisioning retired life as just a later phase of their working lives. 

According to new research from Empower, a financial services company, over half (58%) of Americans (64% of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) may be in the job market post-retirement and are open to working indefinitely — and the reasons aren’t purely financial. Would-be working retirees are motivated by values such as personal fulfillment (41%) and having a sense of purpose (37%), as much as potential financial needs (40%).

To explore what defines the ideal retirement in America, Empower surveyed over 1,000 adults about their views on living locations, activities and concerns. Here are more findings:

Top retirement locations in the U.S.:

  • Florida
  • New York
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Texas

Top retirement locations abroad:

  • Italy
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Barbados

Top retirement activities:

  • Traveling
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Art
  • Volunteering

Top retirement concerns:

  • Inflation
  • Insufficient savings or running out of money
  • Unexpected expenses
  • Healthcare costs
  • Affordability of housing

A separate survey by the Pew Research Center reports that roughly one in five Americans aged 65 and older were employed in 2023 — nearly double the share of those who were working 35 years ago. And not only are older workers increasing in number, but their earning power has grown in recent decades. In 2022, the typical worker age 65 or older earned $22 per hour, up from $13 in 1987.

The Pew study also found that older workers are working longer hours with higher levels of education and greater pay per hour. Older workers’ overall contribution to the labor force has grown considerably. In 2023, they accounted for 7% of all wages and salaries paid by U.S. employers. That is more than triple the share in 1987 (2%).

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