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Early Retirement

Posted Oct 23 2008 6:22pm

The decades-long trend toward early retirement among 50-something's may be over.

In 2000, about 69 percent of men ages 53 to 61 were working according to a University of Michigan Institute for Social Research Health and Retirement Study that surveys more than 22,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years. "Job demandsare a factor in early retirement," says David Weir, associate director of the study, "and these kinds of changes in job characteristics bode well for keeping older Americans working longer. The physical demands of their jobs may not push people out as much as in the recent past."

However, the corporate definition of "over the hill" is getting younger. Not too long ago, workers closing in on the traditional retirement age of 65 were considered to be past their primes. Now it's the 50-something Baby Boomers who are holding on tightly to their full-time jobs.

There has been a dramatic change, since the mid-1980s, in the labor force participation of older workers. In the 65-to-69 age group, about one-third of men and almost one-fourth of women were working in 2004. The percentage of men in that age group still working rose to 33 percent in 2004 from 27 percent in 1994; the percentage of women in that age group working rose to 23 percent from 18 percent.  According to AARP, almost one in three workers will be 50 or older within five years.

The AARP's list of the "Best Employers for Workers Over 50" is published in September and rewards those firms that offer training, phased retirement or return-to-workafter retiring programs. AARP's Deborah Russell says more than 200 companies have asked for registration papers for the 2004 contest; only 73 applied in 2003.
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