Older Workers Are Delaying Retirement

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: February 13, 2013

The stock market is thriving and the rest of the economy is slowly strengthening. But despite this good news, the number of workers planning to delay retirement is soaring, according to a new report by The Conference Board, a business research organization based in New York City.

In 2012, 62 percent of survey respondents aged 45 to 60 said that the recent recession has made them consider postponing retirement, up significantly from 42 percent in 2010.

Job losses, pay cuts, and significant declines in home values were among the major factors driving these planned delays, the report concludes. Workers who drew from their savings to help get through the tough financial times of recent years were also more likely to plan a delayed retirement.

Other, more subtle, factors may also be at work, the report suggests. Falling interest rates on even relatively stable investments, for example, may have people worrying about how much income their savings will produce in the future. The yield on a 10-year Treasury bond was just about 3.5 percent two years ago; today it is below 2 percent.

The ongoing shift from employer-sponsored pension plans to employee-managed retirement savings may also have something to do with the trend toward delayed retirement, the report indicates. Without guaranteed benefits, more people may feel the need to work more years, in order to guarantee sufficient income after retirement.

Staying in the workforce may be easier said than done, however, especially for those who have experienced a recent job loss.

Unemployed people 55 and older take longer than their younger counterparts to get back into the workforce. In this age group, 53 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for at least 27 weeks, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the 25-to-34 age range, however, 40 percent of the unemployed have been jobless for that long.

Once back to work, older employees are significantly more likely to lose their job than younger workers with the same number of years with an employer, according to a study by The Urban Institute, a public policy analysis group in Washington, D.C.

"Just when you thought the recession aftermath was easing," The Conference Board report concluded, "the impact on older workers seems to have intensified."