According to the American Institute for Economic Research, you can teach an old dog new tricks, at least if you offer sufficient motivation. In a recent report, AIER notes that Americans over age 50 are increasingly learning new skills and changing careers instead of retiring.
Americans are putting off retirement, changing careers
An increasing number of American workers are putting off retirement. A 2013 survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs reports that 82% of working Americans over 50 say they will likely work for pay during retirement, and another anticipate 47% retiring later than they originally thought. In 1995, the average person expected to work until age 60, but now the average non-retiree anticipates working until age 66 (Brown, 2013).
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The two main reasons that Americans are increasingly delaying retirement is an extended lifespan, and thus the need to finance a longer retirement, and the fact that fewer and fewer U.S. retirees have pensions (virtually all companies have eliminated pensions). This means retirees must rely on personal 401k and IRA account retirement savings to supplement Social Security retirement income. Given the median 401k balance of Americans 65 and older is $72,957, that means most people can only pay for the first two or three years of retirement.
That’s why it’s not surprising that most “retirement age” Americans are still working today. The American dream of a well-deserved retirement after a long career has been stolen by the corporate plutocrats and the super rich, so most older people today understand they are going to work for nearly all of their lives.
Key findings of AIER survey
Five key findings of the 2015 AIER survey include:
- Among older adults who are trying to change careers, the majority are successful in accomplishing their goals
- Most successful older career changers report that they are happier because of their career change.
- Many successful career changers report that their income has increased.
- Having transferable skills is among the most important factors in successfully changing careers.
Access to workforce services, individual attitudes and social support systems also play a big role in the success rate of career changers.