June 20, 2024

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Despite the wave of boomers returning to work after the Great Retirement, there are still 2 million more retirees than America’s workforce can handle

2 min read

Retirees are known for playing bingo in Florida, watching Jeopardy with religious fervor, and voting at every election. They’re less known for returning to the workforce. But right now, that’s exactly what some forlorn economists are hoping for.

During the early pandemic, layoffs, health concerns, and shifting work attitudes prompted an unprecedented number of baby boomers to leave their jobs as part of the Great Retirement. But many of them began to reconsider their choices and unretired amid forty-year high inflation, recession fears, and a volatile stock market. Yet, new data from the St. Louis Fed finds that there’s still a lot more retirees than the Fed predicted: about 2 million, to be exact.

Now, that doesn’t mean the unretirement narrative isn’t true. Unretirement rates rebounded to pre-pandemic levels as the economy and society began to normalize again. The majority (68%) of pandemic-era retirees reported they’d consider returning to work, per a 2022 CNBC survey. And as the cost of living and life expectancy rises, 20% of retirees continue to work full- or part- time and 7% are job searching, per T. Rowe Price’s recent Retirement Saving & Spending Study. Nearly half of working retirees said they’re doing so for either financial reasons or for socio-emotional ones.

“It’s extremely scary. We thought that we would be doing some traveling this year, but that’s come to an abrupt halt. You want your money to last,” Anita Cowles told Fortune of her retirement journey in 2022, adding that her husband was considering going back to work.

The number of retirees is down from 2.8 million last year, per the Fed data, a sign of those returning to work. But it’s picked up from 1.7 million in June. “While the gap seemed to be closing earlier in the year, it seems to have widened slightly since then,” Miguel Faria-e-Castro, economic policy adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told Bloomberg. The remaining 1.98 million surplus of…



2023-11-11 08:00:00

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