Baby Boomers delaying retirement

A November 2013 Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey [1] highlighted that the average age U.S. retirees say they retired grew from 57 to 61 in the last 20 years.  In fact, 49% of boomers indicated that they do not expect to retire until they are 66 or older.  10% of boomers stated that they did not plan to ever retire.

This changing trend has implications for employers and employees.  With fewer Millennials entering the work force, the delayed retirement by Baby Boomers will continue to supply employers with experienced workers.  But the proportions of each group may not align well by skill set and regional needs.   Some employers may find a shortage of workers while others will be operating in areas with an abundant supply of labor.  This imbalance may also impact the investment in training newer workers.  The technology skills of the Millennials may force Boomers to retire earlier than planned.  Finally, health concerns of an aging Boomer population will cause some to withdraw from the workforce earlier than planned.

There are also implications on the housing industry.  Boomers who remain in the work force will not be following their brethren to retirement havens.   Heavier unemployment in the younger ranks also delays purchases of first homes, marriages and starting families.

The survey also looked at engagement in their work.  Boomers were only slightly more likely to be engaged in their work than Millennials and Generation X workers.   On a positive note, the Wells/Gallup survey indicated those who remain engaged in the workplace tend to have higher well-being, better health and higher productivity.

The take away for employers and employees is that the workforce will be more age-diverse and technological skills will be essential for all workers regardless of age.  In addition, being engaged in work will promote longer lives and a healthier, more productive workforce for all age groups.

[1] The November 2013 Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey, (accessed January 25, 2014).

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