Departing the workforce entirely and entering retirement at age 65 is no longer a reality for many older people in the United States, according to a recent survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study finds that there are large numbers of older Americans who are currently, or who expect to be, working longer. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that they are continuing with the same employment circumstances indefinitely. Many are either reducing their hours to part-time status or are planning to switch to a new employer or even a new field.
This survey comes at a time when the size of the older population is larger than ever and projected to keep growing. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of Americans age 65 and older rose from 35.9 million to 44.7 million. In the next quarter century, this number is expected to rise to 82.3 million. The percentage of the overall population that falls within this group will rise from 14.1 percent in 2013 to 21.7 percent in 2040.
"The circumstances and future plans of older Americans must be well understood by decision-makers," said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "Not only are older Americans going to work longer, but 4 in 10 respondents are planning to change career fields in the future. These results point to significant changes in the American workforce with impacts likely felt by workers and employers."
Key findings from the survey from adults age 50 and older:
The 2016 study on working longer is a continuation of and expansion on a 2013 survey from The AP-NORC Center. The 2016 study extends the 2013 research and examines new topics, including older workers' efforts to improve their career skills and their plans to adjust the parameters of work in the later stages of their working life. The survey also tracks a number of attitudes and behaviors that were examined in 2013 surrounding issues facing older workers.
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