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There’s No Stopping The Growing Graying Workforce

You see them whenever you go to the supermarket: mature silver and white-haired employees working as cashiers, baggers, packers or sackers. Why, perhaps after a 40-year career somewhere, would anyone want to continue to work?

While retirement can be the start of a whole new career, some men and women work because they want to; others work because they have to. These are loyal, dependable and able-bodied employees who know that staying busy, with a sense purpose and belonging, equates to better health and mental fitness. So, if they want to work, they should be allowed to do so.

However, not all companies are as interested in hiring, or able to accommodate, the growing graying workforce as readily as supermarkets, fast food stores or home center stores are. But make no mistake; job listings for seniors are plentiful.


McDonalds, for example, recently teamed up with AARP for a major push to match low-income American seniors with jobs from cashier to shift manager in a five-state pilot program.

U.S. News & World Report’s Emily Brandon named 15 popular in-demand jobs for retirees 62 or older: Administrative assistant, child care, clergy, college instructor, driver, engineer, financial services, manager, management consultant, musician, nurse, real estate agent, salesperson, teacher and writer.

Brandon says at age 65 and older, over a third (35%) of employees work in part-time positions of less than 35 hours a week, typically because they choose not to work full time, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Those 55 and older will make up 24.8% of the workforce by 2026, the Bureau projected.

Going to work is fun again

Widows and widowers of various ethnicities, backgrounds and skill sets thrive on mental engagement, personal interaction, connection, and recognition and, above all, frequent lighthearted interludes with customers, co-workers and managers. In reality, many husband and wife teams work to earn additional income in order to refrain from dipping into their savings to pay for everyday expenses.

Using “other people’s money,” or “mad money,” as my friend Mario calls it, is better when coming from an employer in the form of pay than drawing down from personal savings. “Planning for retirement is about making your money last, isn’t it? So we’re planning to spend our retirement money last!” Mario said. Having worked locally for a large southern-based grocery chain for several years after retiring from the newspaper, he quit working after breaking his hip. Mario said working was his “whole life,” and then reminded me not to spend “foolishly.”

Some problems never seem go away

The longer you wait to begin receiving Social Security benefits, the higher the amount you’ll receive. For 64% of people 65 and older, Social Security benefits represent more than half of their income. Benefits were never intended to be a primary source of income in retirement – they are only to supplement pensions, investment funds, and yes, even earnings from a part-time job.

One out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95. So, not working after retirement could mean living off retirement savings for 20 years or more. That’s not feasible for some people because nearly half of adults have less than $50,000 saved for retirement, as a GoBankingRates survey of 3,000 Americans showed. Sadly, Only one-third of the respondents over 55 had less than $10,000 set aside.

Can you imagine the outcome when nearly 28 percent of adults (that’s 3 in 10) have no emergency savings and an emergency occurs? Bankrate’s Financial Security Index says at least 1 in 4 have a rainy day fund, but not enough money in it to cover three months’ worth of living expenses.

For many who want and need to work past 65, or at some point past retirement, family caregiving needs holds them back. The American Society on Aging reported nearly 5 million grandparents are primary caregivers to grandchildren today. And yet, they receive only 10 percent of the funds from the sole federal program, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, to help family caregivers.

Making – and spending – extra money’s Lily Martis says some best-in-class employers understand the value; wisdom and insight older workers bring to the workforce. AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins recognizes the American workforce is aging and sees it as positive.

“Older workers not only bring value to the workforce with their creativity and adaptability, they spend more money, the economy grows, more jobs are created, they give more money to children and grandchildren, which they spend and invest in the economy,” said Jenkins.

“An approach that is gaining in acceptance is ‘retire and rehire,’ allowing employers to recall retired workers to return to work during peak times or on a temporary project basis,” Jenkins writes in Disrupt Aging. “Older workers help create the kind of workplace where innovation can blossom.”

Amen to that.

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