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Survey: Majority of Americans Expect to Work in Retirement

  • More than half of respondents in recent survey indicated that they think they will continue holding a job during their retirement
  • Continued employment seen as a way to maintain mental well-being, build a financial safety net
  • Despite aspirations, many retirees find themselves on the sidelines due to health problems or other issues

Retirement is generally regarded as a reward for decades of hard work, allowing an employee to spend more time volunteering, pursuing personal hobbies, or otherwise uncoupling themselves from the demands of the daily workday. Yet a recent survey from Voya Financial found that 54 percent of respondents expect to continue holding a job of some sort into their retirement years.

The survey was issued in waves between March and July to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retirement planning and expectations. While 40 percent said they intended to keep working after retirement to create a financial safety net in case of unexpected costs or market volatility, respondents were more likely to say they wanted to continue working for their own mental well-being; 56 percent gave this reason. A majority of respondents also continued to put priority on retirement savings over debt reduction, with seven in 10 increasing their contributions during the pandemic.

While such aspirations are common, they often go unmet. Another survey by Allianz Life found that nearly two-thirds of respondents expect to continue working in retirement, but that only 7 percent of retirees said they actually held a job. The study suggested that issues such as health problems or difficulties finding an employer prevent many would-be workers from re-entering the workplace.

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