Posted by: Lauren Young on June 29, 2009
Does anyone ever really retire?
Of the 2,969 adults surveyed, 83% of adults ages 65 and older describe themselves as retired, “but the word means different things to different people,” the data show. Just three-quarters of adults (76%) 65 and older fit “the classic stereotype of the retiree who has completely left the working world behind,” the survey says. Which begs the question: What kind of jobs do the other 24% have? Is it volunteer work or are they employed as a greeter at Wal-Mart (WMT)?
The answer seems to be a mix of different jobs. For example, 8% of the “still-working” respondents say they are retired but working part time. Another 11% of the 65-and-older population describe themselves as still in the labor force, though not all of them have jobs.
We’ve been thinking the impact of the recession on retirement a lot lately. We are putting the finishing touches on our summer retirement issue, which will be out in early July. What’s encouraging for people who dream of spending their golden years at the golf course or on a porch sipping lemonade is that only 2% of the “still-working group” in the “Growing Old in America” survey they are retired but working full time while just 3% say they are retired but looking for work. Considering the economic downturn, those numbers seem surprisingly low. (Interviews were conducted from Feb. 23 to March 23, 2009.)
Whatever the fuzziness around these definitions, one trend is crystal clear from government data: After falling steadily for decades, the labor force participation rate of older adults began to trend back upward about 10 years ago. In the Pew Research survey, the average retiree is 75 years old and retired at age 62. (In 2002, it was 92.)
The Growing Old in America report is chock-full of data on other topics impacting the elderly, such as living arrangements, family relationships, and end-of-life wishes. Two data points that caught my eye: Respondents think old age begins at 68 while the ideal age to die is 89.
What do you think? Do you think you will be retired by age 62? If not, at what age do you plan to retire?