The retirement age of 65 was set in stone in 1935 when the Social Security Act was passed by Congress. At the time, the average life span for a man, and it was a man’s place in the workforce, was 60. Women, on average, lived to be 62. As life expectancy has expanded, so have people’s perceptions of appropriate retirement age.
“As of February 2019, more than 20% of adults over 65 were with working or actively looking for work,” says Juanita Jimenez-Soto, Texas Associate State Director of Communications, who works in the Houston office.
Parker Harvey, Principal Economist for the Gulf Coast Workforce Board at Workforce Solutions says “who” keeps working depends on their background. “We find them splitting off in two different camps. Those that remain in industries that required a lot of education, and those who reenter the workforce in areas like retail and restaurant food service.”
Of those over 65 who report to work every day, whether full or part time, the majority say it’s not for the money. “They like the exposure to other people, and it keeps them young and young at heart, because isolation is one of the causes for early death,” says Jimenez-Soto.
Boomers are the fastest growing segment of the American workforce. As they redefine the end of their careers much as they did when they started, it begs the question – what is retirement age in the modern world? “Well, that’s a very good question,” says Harvey. “I would imagine it’s a function of health as well as accumulation of retirement savings.”
59% of elderly workers say they’re in it for the paycheck to make ends meet. Life expectancy in 2019 is 76 for men and 81 for women.