Gallup research indicates that while approximately 80 percent of baby boomers in their early 50s are in the workforce, the percentage employed drops to about 50 percent for boomers who are 60, and the proportion accelerates downward with each year of age thereafter.
Only one-third of the oldest boomers in the United States — those ages 67 and 68 — are still working in some capacity, based on more than 134,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted with Americans aged 50–68 in 2014.
As a related article on the Gallup website shared, the increasing size of the retired labor force of aging boomers will have the potential to affect society in many ways, including changing patterns of housing, travel and leisure, politics and retail commerce, and an increasing need for health care services.
In response to the Gallup findings, commentary published by the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (SRI) noted, “So much for ‘I’ll work until I drop,’ ‘retiring retirement,’ and other forms of wishful thinking. The situation might change as the less financially advantaged, trailing-edge boomers enter their 60s without generous pensions. But the basic dynamics will remain the same — most people simply do not want to, or cannot, work full time beyond their mid-60s or earlier.”
The commentary continued, “This runs counterintuitive to research findings that consistently reveal a lack of retirement readiness across a majority of pre-retirees. The Institute sees a continued need to understand this dynamic.”
I look forward to hearing more about our industry’s take on this dynamic. But regardless of the reasons behind it, I’m struck by two primary takeaways from the Gallup research and the subsequent LIMRA SRI commentary: Namely, that many people cannot work full-time beyond their mid-60s, and, furthermore, that tied to this may be a potential increase in the need for health care services.
What would the ramifications of an increased need for health care services be for the legions of middle-market baby boomers who already fear outliving their retirement income?
What would the financial implications be for them and their families if, due to a chronic or terminal illness, they have to retire even earlier than anticipated?