25% of Workforce Will be 55+ in 2020; Flex-Retirement and Other Options Grow as More Seek to Keep Working

I mentioned before that I am reading Unretirement,  Chris Farrell’s extensively researched book about the Baby Boomer generation and the reality that many will continue to work, some out of necessity, and others for enjoyment.  Farrell says that many healthy “young seniors” will continue to work and some will start businesses they have always dreamed of.  He notes that there are many organizations in larger communities like Next Chapter in Kansas City that are helping this group plan the next chapter in their lives. Websites like Retired Brains help older persons find jobs and discuss options for continued employment and self-employment.

Religious organizations like the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) are located in many cities and they place older workers in human services and social justice work for a stipend and incorporate a Jesuit spiritual component and a sense of shared community.

Farrell also mentions some larger companies like Intel which are using innovative methods to lessen the “brain drain” in their companies.  With so many Baby Boomers reaching the retirement age in these companies they don’t want to lose so much of their institutional knowledge all at once, so they are offering flex-retirement.  Older workers can take  several  weeks off during the year and come back to work or they can gradually reduce their hours over a number of years as they phase into retirement.  This benefits the companies but also helps workers get a taste for being retired so they can think  and plan their next chapter.

With paid family leave , these types of phased retirement options may be the next step in worker friendly employment, though they isn’t a  need for legislation to mandate this.  Farrell argues in the book that major businesses will see that being supportive of workers throughout their lives, as parents of newborns and later as caregivers and retirees helps to maintain loyalty and morale.

Farrell says that  25% of the labor force will be workers over the age of 55, up from 19.5% in 2010.   These “mature workers” counter the perception that a massive wave of people will just retire and collect Social Security rather than still pay into the system.

Other books to explore on this topic include The Encore Career Handbook:  How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life by Marci Alboher and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ : Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy And Pays the Bills by Kerry Hannon.

We are hoping to create a network of retirees interested in work and voluntarism in the Albany area so let me know if you have an interest.

Mike Burgess



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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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