One in Seven Seniors Still in the Workforce

In 1995, workers expected to retire on average at age 60.
The average age at which U.S. workers expect to retire is 66, up slightly from about 64 years of age between 2004 and 2008.

In 1995, workers expected to retire at age 60, according to Gallup’s 2016 Economy and Personal Finance Poll. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults now expect to retire between the ages of 62 and 67, while 23% expect to stop working before they turn 62. But many workers (31%) predict they won’t retire until after age 67, the current minimum age for receiving full Social Security retirement benefits.

Lower-income workers plan to retire a bit later, on average, than those earning $75,000 or more annually. Young adults, ages 18 to 29, plan to retire earlier than middle-aged and older adults, likely reflecting youthful optimism about their future income and savings, Gallup says.

Although Americans now on average expect to retire at age 66, Gallup found that many retired Americans report they stopped working much earlier at an average of 61 years of age. More specifically, 42% of retirees say they stopped working before age 62, while just 13% continued working until they were 67 or older. But Gallup notes that current retirees span an age range of more than 40 years, meaning that some retired decades ago while others retired very recently, and their age at retirement reflects societal and economic patterns of that time.

Gallup found that one in seven seniors (67 and older) are still in the workforce today. When this is taken into account, 26% of adults 67 and older are either still in the workforce (14%) or worked until they were 67 or older before retiring (12%). That is slightly less than the 31% of today’s non-retirees who intend to work past age 67. However, the greater discrepancy is in the percentage retiring before age 62: 36% of today’s seniors say they did this, while just 23% of current workers intend to.

Many factors go into when a worker will retire including finances, health, family needs and layoffs, Gallup notes. Fewer workers today than in the past say a pension will be a major income source in retirement, and many have been unable to save sufficiently during the economic slowdown of the past decade. Seven in 10 employed adults told Gallup in April that they are worried about not having enough savings for retirement. As a result, they are continuing to work.