You’ve heard of The Great Recession and The Great Resignation, but have you heard of The Great Unretirement? It’s sweeping the country and has been a boon to many companies plagued by a shortage of qualified candidates for their current job openings.
In an interview with CNBC, Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at Indeed, said:
“The unretirement trend is emblematic of what we’re seeing in the labor market overall, which is seeing increasing labor force participation for a broad swath of workers.”
Bunker said employers are pulling out the stops to fill 11.5 million job openings, which is 5.6 million more than there are available workers.
“Employers are taking steps to entice people. There’s an elevated share of postings that mention terms like hiring bonuses, retention bonuses,” he continues. “There are signs that employers are starting to lure people in with bonuses like that.”
Inflation is also on the side of employers looking for people motivated to return to work. According to the U.S. Inflation Calculator, the annual inflation rate for the United States is 8.3% for the 12 months ending August 2022. This is a painful pinch for everyone’s budget, including retirees relying on fixed incomes.
10 reasons to consider unretirement
In February 2022, Tom Brady retired — only to unretire 40 days later. Although you probably don't have the same lifelong competitive drive as the greatest quarterback of all time, there are still plenty of valid reasons to go back to work. Here are 10 of them.
1. More money
Whether you need it or want it, more money is always nice. Today’s Baby Boomers and seniors are at significant risk of being short of cash in retirement, partly because of the recession of 2008, and inflation is helping drain the pockets of many who took early retirement or experienced forced retirement due to COVID.
2. Less boredom
43% of older adults who returned to work cite fighting boredom as their reason for unretiring, compared to 33% who mainly did it for the money. Many found that while extra time on the weekends with children and grandchildren was fulfilling, weekdays spent watching television or cleaning out the basement wasn’t.
3. Good for everyone
Though the date is subject to change, it’s currently estimated by financial experts that Social Security will run dry in 2034, leaving tens of millions of people in a tough position financially.
By returning to work, unretirees are helping to sustain the Social Security system by prolonging the payment of benefits. This not only helps the Social Security system today, but it will also increase the unretiree’s benefits when they finally decide to begin drawing Social Security.
In addition to easing the strain on Social Security now and in the future, unretirees are also helping boost the economy today not only by having more disposable income and spending it, but also by being there to help more people spend their money.
4. Stay sharp
Many retirees have proven that the adage “use it or lose it” is true. Research shows that people who delay retirement have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Over 20% of retirees say keeping their minds sharp and socializing with others was their primary motivation for unretiring. Perhaps a fitting new adage would be, “All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy.”
5. Reenergize your life
Have you noticed that you don’t feel tired when you’re doing something you enjoy until you stop? Seniors who return to the workplace have a reason to jump out of bed in the morning; it renews their outlook on life.
6. Find meaning as a mentor
Having decades of work experience under their belt lets unretirees share their experience, knowledge, and wisdom with younger generations. This helps younger people advance in their careers and increase their earnings, all of which have a trickle-down effect.
The reverse is also true. Unretirees can learn new skills and gain new insights from the younger workers they spend hours with. In addition, they get to stay in step with societal changes and new technology which are helping to shape younger generations. Being part of that is satisfying to many older adults.
[ Related: The importance of returnships, explained ]
7. Live longer (literally)
According to a study by Oregon State University, people working past age 65 may lead longer lives than those who retire earlier. They found that healthy adults who retired at 66 had an 11% lower risk of death from all causes, even when considering demographic, lifestyle, and health issues.
The findings from the study also showed that adults who described themselves as unhealthy were likely to live longer if they continued working, indicating that factors beyond health may affect post-retirement mortality.
8. Improve your overall health
Retirees often lead a more sedentary lifestyle than people who are working. This can lead to weight gain and all of its associated problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report indicating that being unemployed or retired was associated with the greatest risk of poor health across all health status measures, even disregarding smoking status. The report states unequivocally that adults over age 65 who are employed had better health outcomes than unemployed older adults.
9. Build a support system
Retirees often face the loss of family members and friends as they age. Parents and spouses may be deceased, and children might have moved away. The emotional support a senior receives at work when they’re facing loss can make a significant difference in their physical and mental health. Many unretirees return to the workforce to fight loneliness and isolation and ease the pain of losing a loved one.
[ Related: 3 financial considerations when caring for aging parents ]
10. Connect, grow & socialize
Many seniors say some of their closest life-long friendships were forged at work with people they met while on the job. Unretirees connect with people at workplace outings or after-hours get-togethers. Staying connected with others through work is another essential element of healthy aging.
So, now what?
Coming out of retirement isn't right for everyone. After all, you had a good enough reason to ride off into the sunset in the first place. And in most cases, you probably spent the vast majority of your adult life working to save for retirement. Why turn back now?
Well, for many people, these 10 reasons (or some combination of them) may be exactly why the itch to get back to work persists. Or maybe you should stay put and relax.
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