During the pandemic, a notable number of baby boomers in the U.S. sped-up their retirement plans due to layoffs, health concerns, and changing work attitudes — contributing to what was termed the “Great Retirement.” However, the current economic landscape, marked by high inflation, recession fears, and a volatile stock market, has prompted a reconsideration of retirement plans.
According to recent data published by the St. Louis Fed, there are still about 2 million more retirees than predicted, despite some returning to work.
The data was featured in an article published by Fortune, which also cited a 2022 CNBC survey revealing that 68% of pandemic-era retirees would consider rejoining the workforce — with financial pressures and socio-emotional reasons being the primary motivators.
According to T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Saving & Spending Study, 20% of retirees continue to work full- or part-time, and 7% are actively job searching. This trend is not just about financial necessity; it also reflects the evolving attitudes workers in the U.S. feel towards work and retirement.
The declining birth rate and aging population in the U.S. are causing concerns about a potential long-term labor shortage. Many economists believe that the mass retirement of a generation as large as the baby boomers could strain social security and Medicare systems — already under pressure from an aging population and other funding challenges. This situation in turn also places more demand on the care industry, which is already struggling with labor shortages.
By the end of the decade, employees over 55 are projected to make up 25% of the workforce. It’s reported by Fortune that the rising cost of living and longer life expectancies will translate to a high number of baby boomers delaying their retirement.
This trend suggests the need for structural adjustments in policies and systems to accommodate these large demographic shifts. Adjusting America’s retirement system, which has been under strain, is critical for the long-term success of the U.S. economy.
The return of many baby boomers to the workforce is a significant trend that is a direct response to broader economic and demographic shifts. It highlights the need for policy adjustments and a rethinking of retirement and work in an aging society. This trend is likely to persist and will shape the future of work in the coming years.