The recession has put even greater pressure on workers to stay on the job, according to a new report.
The report, from the Conference Board, found several trends unique to the latest recession. The health industry experienced the largest decline in retirement rates. In 2009-2010, only 1.55 percent of full-time workers aged 55-64 retired within 12 months, compared with almost 4 percent in 2004-2007.
The construction industry also experienced a large decline in retirement rates. This was likely the result of a long slump in the industry, which resulted in many laid-off workers trying to stay in the labor force to make up for lost income.
There was essentially no retirement delay among government workers. That is expected, since these workers are more likely to receive defined benefits, making them more insulated from the decline in financial asset values in their pensions.
Mature workers in high-paying occupations were much more likely to delay retirement than workers in low-paying ones. Those in higher-paying jobs tend to have higher financial expectations for their retirement years. In addition, high-paying occupations tend to have limited physical requirements, making it easier to continue working. Among lower-paid workers, there is often an increased physical demand, and unemployment rates tend to be much higher. As a result, even if those workers wanted to continue working, finding replacement jobs is often extremely difficult, forcing them to retire.
Delayed retirement has affected the demographic distribution within the U.S. Part of the decline in net migration to states like Florida and Arizona is likely due to the trend of delayed retirement. Fewer individuals are leaving the labor force and moving to retirement destinations.
Those who suffered from a significant decline in home or financial asset values, lost a job or experienced a compensation cut during the recession were much more likely to delay retirement. Workers in states where home prices suffered especially large slumps (such as California, Michigan, Florida and Arizona) were more likely to delay retirement.
"Retirement rates declined significantly during and after the great recession," said Conference Board associate director of macroeconomic research Gad Levanon, who wrote the report. "However, we see that delayed retirement has been more prevalent for some occupations and industries. For example, the health care industry experienced the largest decline in retirement rates in recent years. Jobs in this field are also in great demand. On the other hand, there was almost no retirement delay among government workers, who are more likely to receive defined benefit pension plans."
Understanding these trends can help businesses develop a better workforce strategy by incorporating retirement trends specific to their operating environment. For example, delayed retirement provides relief for several more years in industries that will suffer significant "brain drain" from baby boomers leaving. Alternatively, for companies that would like to reduce headcount, slash labor costs, hire new workers or promote younger workers, delayed retirement could be viewed as a negative development.
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