By Heather Brown


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)A new AP survey finds almost a quarter of Americans say they’ll never retire.

For some, that’s by choice. For others, it’s an economic necessity. For many, however, working until the end is not a truly realistic option.

So, when do Americans retire? And why? Good Question.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Americans expect to retire at age 65 but end up actually doing so at age 62.

“Retirement as we know it is really being upended,” says Phyllis Moen, the McKnight Endowed Presidential Chair in sociology at the University of Minnesota.

She says a generation ago, most people used to retire between 62 and 65.

“Today, people are retiring in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and they’re retiring more than once,” she said.

That means the average retirement age in the United States hasn’t budged all that much over the decades. Moen says that’s because more people are retiring earlier as well as later.

“The real story is variability, there are people at all ends,” Moen said.

Some people, especially those with corporate or government pensions, are leaving their full-time jobs earlier because they want to do something else like volunteering, starting a second career or taking on a part-time job.

Another group of people retiring earlier are women, who are retiring in large numbers for the first time in history. They tend to retire closer to when their husbands retire. They also are often forced into early retirement to become caregivers.

According to EBRI, 43% of people are retiring earlier than they’d planned. Often, that’s due to disabilities, other health conditions, layoffs or inflexible jobs.

About half of people are retiring when they want and 9% say they’re retiring later than they’d hoped.

“They’re not saving. It’s really difficult when wages have not increased,” Moen said. She says people also feel uncertain about income in the future.

All of this is happening as people are living longer – four years more compared to 30 years ago.

“That’s the question: What are they going to do with this whole new bonus?” Moen said. “If we can create the kinds of work environment that work for people like this and show them they can do meaningful work, people will want to stay in the workforce even longer than they are now.”

Heather Brown

Comments (2)
  1. Steve Jewell says:

    Great piece, Heather. If interested in a follow up segment, a panel discussion of subject matter experts is planned for Sept 18th at Fairview Wilf Auditorium. Happy to share details with you.

    Steve Jewell
    cell: 612-597-5230