When Can Older Americans Expect to Retire? Maybe Never


Dora Mekouar

Both of the leading presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, 68, and Donald Trump, 69, are pushing 70, an age when most Americans traditionally contemplate retirement, rather than seek one of the world’s most stressful and demanding jobs.

But Clinton and Trump could be on to something. More than half of older Americans are expected to keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65, according to a recent survey. The reasons vary: some can’t afford to retire while others prefer to stay active.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates and Projections/US Department of Health and Human Services

As the baby boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964, who are currently between 52 and 70 years old — begin to reach age 65, the United States’ general population will have more older people than ever before.

The 65-and-older crowd jumped from 35.5 million in 2002, to 43.1 million in 2012, an increase of 21 percent. That number is expected to more than double by 2060, to 92 million. By 2040, there will be twice as many older people living in America than there were in 2000.

The survey included interviews with 1,075 people who were age 50 and older. One-fourth of the older workers said they never plan to retire, and that’s truer among low-income earners than high earners. Thirty-three percent of people earning less than $50,000 a year said they’ll keep working indefinitely, while 20 percent of those with salaries over $100,000 said they’ll never retire.

Sixty percent of people aged 50 to 64 said they expect to work past their 65th birthday. More than half of those who are already older than 65 said they plan to keep working, too. However, many of these older workers are putting in fewer hours, an average of 31 per week.

Being older doesn’t necessarily mean these employees are complacent. A majority of older workers — specially those who are 65 and older — plan to switch employers, or move into an entirely new profession, as they head off into the twilight years.

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