Americans holding off on retirement

Americans holding off on retirement

Over the course of five years, from 2013 to 2018, the number of workers age 55 and older in West Michigan increased by more than 22,500. Courtesy Thinkstockphotos

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Americans age 55 and older are remaining in or rejoining the workforce, the data show.  

In 2018, there were 176,608 jobs in West Michigan (all 13 counties) that were held by people over the age of 55, according to Economic Modeling Specialists International.

In 2013, EMSI reported 153,984 jobs in West Michigan occupied by people 55 and older. Five years before that, in 2008, EMSI listed 141,152 jobs held by those 55 and older in West Michigan.

“We, at 55, 56 years old, are in our prime right now,” said John Zimmerman, marketing and communications executive for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “We have the experience, we have the knowledge and we know how to work hard, we know how to pick ourselves up when we fall down, so there is so much left to be done. This is a fun time now because we’ve already proven ourselves that we can make things happen. We see plenty of people staying and working, working up until they are in their 80s.”

Hunter Judson is the president and CEO of Grand Rapids-based Judson Group, which works with large and small financial companies such as banks, credit unions, specialty finance companies, wealth management firms and trust companies across West Michigan and the U.S. to identify IT specialists.

Judson said he is observing that professionals are working longer, many of whom are working beyond 65.

“This is being driven by financial needs,” he said. “(The) 2008-10 recession impacted many individuals’ saving plans, forcing them to delay retirement. Also, professionals over 55 are generally healthier and are able to work longer. They want to be busy and productive.”

Nicholas Romley, division director at Special Counsel-Michigan, which offers legal staffing and recruiting services, said older people tend to stay in the workforce because of their children.

“We do see a lot of people, especially those in higher level roles, valuing education,” he said. “They want to see and help their kids get through school so they don’t have a ton of student debt.”

For those who already have left the workforce, Romley said they’re finding that people who were early retirees are seeking to get back into the marketplace after age 55. They also are looking to find a position that is different from what they had done for many years, he said, and more of their focus is on job content rather than money.

“They are seeking a position with strong work (and) family balance and flexibility,” he said.

Older people staying in or rejoining the workforce will continue to increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the labor force will grow to about 164 million people by 2024.

That number includes approximately 41 million people who will be age 55 and older, of whom nearly 13 million are expected to be age 65 and older, according to BLS statistics.

“Although they make up a smaller number of workers overall, the 65-to-74-year-olds and 75-and-older age groups are projected to have faster rates of labor force growth annually than any other age groups,” the BLS stated.

From 2014 to 2024, the labor force growth rate of those ages 65-74 is expected to be about 55 percent, and the labor force growth rate of the 75-and-older crowd is expected to be about 86 percent, compared with a 5 percent increase for the labor force as a whole, according to BLS.

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