After a surge in retirement during the early months of the pandemic, the rate of retired workers returning to the job market has slowly been increasing over the past year. And as the labor shortage drags on, more opportunities have become available for those looking to come back to work, especially in a part-time capacity.
We wanted to find out if the inflation and supply chain issues facing the country over the past several months have prompted even more retirees to consider going back to work, so conducted a survey of 800 retirees across the U.S.
- One in five retirees say they are likely to return to work this year
- 69% of this group says they are un-retiring in order to combat rising costs of living
- Nearly 60% are still concerned about the pandemic though they may go back to work
One in Five Retirees Planning to “Un-Retire” This Year
Of the total 800 survey respondents, 12% stated that they were somewhat likely to un-retire this year, while an additional 8% say they are very likely. When asked where exactly they plan to go back to work, 19% of this group said they will go back to work for their previous employer, 23% will stay in the same industry but work for a new employer, while the largest group by far, at 58%, will go to a different industry.
“There is no longer a retirement age and people want to be engaged longer,” commented career consultant Stacie Haller. “Others are returning to the workplace for financial reasons, and in this new work world, there are now more options for them to return with the advent of remote work [and] more part-time work for older workers who cannot commit to a full workweek.”
Given the major shifts in workplace priorities over the past two years, it’s understandable that many un-retirees will want to take advantage of the flexibility of remote work. The largest group, at 31%, say they would prefer a remote position but will work in person if need be.
“Remote work is a priority of older workers returning to the workforce and a very welcome way to continue working past the age where they may have previously felt their only option was retirement,” said Haller. “Many no longer want the heavy travel schedule they may have had to endure, especially now that work/life balance is such a big part of workplace conversations.”
“So many candidates have shared with me that they want more of a life but still want to work and contribute,” she continued. “Remote work is important for those with aging physical challenges who can now continue to work and be productive from home. Remote work is also more financially viable for older workers as the cost of commuting has climbed and remote work becomes a huge way to save on costs.”
69% Cite Rising Costs of Living As Motivation for Un-Retiring
When asked why they are considering un-retiring, the most common answer given by far was to combat rising costs of living due to supply chain issues and inflation.
83% Considering Un-Retiring Are Concerned About Their Finances
Although we often assume people unretiring are doing so out of boredom or feelings of unfulfillment (and there is certainly truth to this), the vast majority of survey respondents who are likely coming out of retirement this year say finances are a major concern. 44% of this group say they are somewhat concerned about the state of their finances, while 39% are highly concerned.
Additionally, 39% say their daily expenses have increased somewhat over the past three months, while another 39% say their expenses have increased greatly. Another cause for concern is that 19% also say their retirement savings are very much lacking when it comes to covering their costs of living.
Six in Ten Say They Are Still Concerned About the Pandemic
Despite the majority of those likely to un-retire this year being at least somewhat open to in-person work, 35% say they are still somewhat concerned about the pandemic, while 24% say they are highly concerned. In addition to these safety concerns, 44% are somewhat worried about age bias affecting their job prospects, while 28% say they are highly worried.
However, according to Haller, the labor shortage is an excellent time for retirees seeking work. “The current war for talent has encouraged older workers to return as they are more welcomed than in the past and can find work to fit their needs and alleviate some or all of their financial struggles.”
“Recruiters are reaching out to this cohort more than before on the hunt for talent. Those who have talents and skills in areas where they have not previously worked can have the opportunity to use those skills now as employers can see their years of work experience to speak to their candidacy,” she explained.
Despite concerns about age bias and pandemic safety, the majority of respondents who will likely un-retire this year say they are feeling at least somewhat positive about returning to the job market, with 14% stating they are feeling very enthusiastic about the change.
Although the majority of respondents are at least not unenthusiastic about returning to the job market, they are going back to work for less than ideal reasons. Most say they are concerned about their finances, don’t have enough retirement savings to be comfortable, are still worried about the pandemic, and are going back to work because their costs of living have increased over the past three months.
This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish on March 29, 2022. In total, 800 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were currently over the age of 54 and retired.