As a result of the pandemic, many are not as financially stable as they previously were. This may be one factor why older Americans are “unretiring” and returning to work.

To better understand the current and future employment status of older Americans, in November, surveyed 500 people ages 62-85.

Key findings:

  • 12% of retired Americans likely to start working again next year
  • Top reasons for retirees returning to work are inflation and high cost of living
  • Two-thirds of retirees fear age bias will affect job prospects
  • 1 in 4 Americans ages 62 to 85 say they are currently working

Inflation and Cost of Living Drive Reasons for Retirees Returning to Work

Twelve percent of currently retired Americans say they are very likely (3%) or somewhat likely (8%) to go back to work next year.

The top reason for returning to work is inflation and increased cost of living (61%). Additionally, retirees say they may return to work because they did not save enough money for retirement (34%), to help pay debt (34%), and to combat boredom (34%).

The majority (78%) of retirees considering a return to work are very enthusiastic (23%) or somewhat enthusiastic (55%) about the prospect.

“Clearly the driving factor for a majority of seniors returning to work is financial but this is not the only reason for many. In my own practice, I often meet with retirees who find that they miss the camaraderie of working with others. Many still want to be in the game and are not ready to just ‘play golf.’ Many are excited about trying something new or something they always wanted to explore,” says ResumeBuilder’s Chief Career Advisor Stacie Haller.

“Additionally, remote work has helped retirees return to work as it creates more opportunities for those who may no longer be able to commute or spend long days in the office.”

Two-thirds are concerned about age discrimination

Two-thirds (66%) of retirees who may return to work say they fear age bias will affect job prospects.

The majority say they will seek out a new job in a new industry (59%), while 14% say they would go back to their previous place of employment, and 27% would seek out a new employer in the same industry.

The plurality of retirees want to return to work in-person (45%), while 32% would prefer to work fully remotely, and 11% say they’d like to be hybrid. The remaining 11% say they don’t have a work location preference.

“Ageism is real, and returnees should remove anything that may signal they are an older candidate from their resumes and LinkedIn. For example, using an AOL email address, listing a home address, graduation dates, or including a picture. Only the last 15 years of experience should be listed,” says Haller.

“Most companies understand employment laws and what can or cannot be asked during interviews. When interviewing, it’s important for seniors to display enthusiasm and focus their answers on why they are the best person for the job. They should also be prepared to discuss and highlight their adaptability, ability to learn quickly, technical skills (take classes to learn what you need), and their related work experience. Professional skills that older Americans have learned over their many years of working are one of the reasons so many organizations are interested in hiring from this cohort. Companies understand the value this group brings to an organization.”

A Number of Older Americans Have Already Unretired

Overall, 76% of respondents report they are currently retired, while 17% say they currently work full-time and 7% say part-time.

Of the group of older Americans currently working full or part-time, 25% say they had been retired at one point but are now back to work, while 75% say they never stopped working.

The majority (61%) say they unretired in 2020 or later. The plurality (45%) say they returned to work due to inflation and the cost of living increasing.

For those who have never tried, the top reason is that they enjoy working (51%). Additionally, 41% say they haven’t saved enough yet for retirement.

Only 8% of older people in the U.S. who are currently working plan to retire next year.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on November 16, 2023.

Overall, 500 U.S. respondents aged 62 to 85 completed the full survey.

To avoid bias Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information