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For most U.S. workers, retiring at 65 is no longer an option

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If you find yourself working among more seniors who should be enjoying their time on leisure activities, then you’re clued into a growing trend: aging boomers who, voluntarily or otherwise, are working past the traditional retirement age of 65.

If the results of a new survey from Northwestern Mutual are any guide, you’ll be seeing many more of these folks in the coming years. The company’s annual 2015 “Planning & Progress Study” reveals that most Americans expect to retire at age 68 — a decade later than when current retirees left the workforce.

For most, the need to make ends meet will be the driving factor. More than 6 in 10 of U.S. adults polled by Northwestern Mutual (62 percent) say that working beyond 65 will be a “necessity.” And nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) cite as top concerns insufficient savings and lack of confidence in social safety nets.

This annual study, which examines Americans’ attitudes and behaviors towards finances and planning, also suggests that poor communication may be a contributing factor to delaying retirement involuntarily. Four in 10 adults state that they have not discussed retirement with anyone while a full third (35 percent) do not have any sense of how much income they will need to retire.

Among the nearly 40 percent of future retirees planning to work longer by choice, the following are top drivers:

    • Enjoy job/career (66 percent)

    • Want additional disposable income (60 percent)

    • Seek social outlet to stay active and prevent boredom (49 percent)

Millennials (18-34) and Matures (69-plus), two generations at the extreme ends of the career lifecycle, were the most enthusiastic about the prospect of continuing to work.

When looking toward retirement, 12 percent of future retirees envision being completely retired from the work force. This contrasts significantly with current retirees, nearly 4 in 5 of whom report being completely retired, a significant increase from last year (up from 72 percent).

Regardless of lifestyle expectations, adults who are not yet retired are substantially less optimistic about their retirement prospects than current retirees:

    • Only 68 percent of future retirees expect to be happy in retirement compared to 80 percent of current retirees.

    • 61 percent of current retirees say they have maintained their quality of life in retirement while only 52 percent of future retirees expect to maintain their quality of life in retirement.

    • Only half (54 percent) of future retirees believe they will be able to focus on activities such as health and fitness relative to three quarters (74 percent) of current retirees.

The study was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual and included 5,474 American adults aged 18 or older who participated in an online survey between January 12, 2015 and January 30, 2015. 

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