Three-quarters of U.S. adult workers believe they will continue working past retirement age, with 40% saying they will do so because they want to, and 35% because they will have to. A much smaller percentage — 19% — fit the prototypical retirement scenario of someone who plans to stop working at retirement age by choice.
Men and Americans under age 35 are slightly more likely than their counterparts to say they want to, rather than need to, continue working past retirement age. However, there are bigger differences by household income, with those earning $75,000 or more the most eager to remain in the workforce.
Overall, about three-quarters of upper-income Americans as well as those earning less than $75,000 annually intend to work past retirement. However, for those already earning a comfortable living, it is more of a choice than a necessity. That is evident in the finding that nearly half of those earning $75,000 or more say they plan to work past retirement because they want to. That compares with roughly a third of adults in lower income categories. Middle- and lower-income workers are significantly more likely than upper-income ones to say they will continue working because they have to.
“Retirement” once connoted a lifestyle free from the demands of work, but also reliance on personal savings and Social Security. Both of those impressions may change if Americans carry through on their intent to continue working, at least part time, after reaching retirement age. While this could be a disappointment to some retirees, it could have benefits both socially and health-wise for Americans, if staying in the workforce keeps seniors more physically and mentally active than they would be otherwise. It would clearly help them financially, particularly if the alternative is dependency on inadequate retirement savings and an uncertain Social Security system. This, in turn, could benefit the economy, with seniors contributing experienced labor as well as earning income that fuels consumer spending and, therefore, the economy as a whole.