A new Gallup Poll released last week showed that the average retirement age for Americans has reached 62 for the first time. The data came from Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted earlier this April. The survey queried retired Americans regarding the age at which they retired, and non-retired Americans about the age at which they planned to retire.

Retirement age

Historical perspective

As mentioned above, the average U.S. retirement age moved up to 62% this year, the highest reading since Gallup undertook the retirement survey in 1991. Americans’ self-reported retirement age has gradually moved upward since the survey began. Gallup polls showed that the average retirement age was 57 in both 1991 and 1993. However, the average retirement age began to move up from there. The average retirement age hit 60 in 2002 and hovered close to that number until 2012. That said, over the past two years, the average age at which Americans report retiring has increased dramatically to 62.

Variety of reasons

According to the Gallup pollsters, there are several reasons for the rapid increase in retirement age. They point to both demographic factors and retirement savings decimated by the financial crisis and aftermath. “Retirement age may be increasing because many baby boomers are reluctant to retire. Older Americans may also be delaying retirement because of lost savings during the Great Recession or because of insufficient savings even before the economic downturn.”

Expected retirement age

Meanwhile, the average age at which non-retired Americans expect to retire has also increased over time, from 60 in 1995 to 66 this year. Interestingly, in 1995 many more Americans expected to retire younger than today — back then 15% expected to retire before age 55, compared with just 4% with the same expectation today.

Retirement age

Since Gallup began polling on the subject 23 years ago, Americans have always expected to retire later than the age at which they actually retire. According to Gallup this ongoing trend, “likely reflects changes in Social Security eligibility as well as the more challenging economic circumstances working Americans currently face.”