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Boomers calling it quits by 65

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Boomers are leaving the workforce in droves. Given how lousy the economy has been the last few years, I found this a surprising retirement planning phenomenon. My guess would have been that most people would look at their diminished savings and conclude, given the continuing economic uncertainty, to stay on the job. But according to a new MetLife survey, that's just not the way it is.

MetLife found that 45 percent of 65-year-old boomers are now fully retired, up from 19 percent in 2008. Another 14 percent say they are officially retired but working part time or seasonally.

Of those people older than 65 and still working, about 50 percent anticipate being able to retire before they turn 70 years old, with 37 percent saying they plan to retire in 2012. On average, these respondents say they hope to retire by age 68.5.

The chart below explains people's reasons for the decision they made to retire early or late. It doesn't reflect the biggest reason people cited for retiring no matter when they did it -- 36 percent said they'd reached retirement age, and they wanted to quit. Another 18 percent said they hung up their work boots for health reasons. Only 6 percent said they'd lost their jobs and couldn't find another. Fewer than 2 percent are job hunting.

Overall, very few retirees had regrets. Some 70 percent of those who are already retired say they like retirement "a lot," while another 20 percent say they like it "somewhat."

My husband will turn 66 in June, and he's still working -- hard. I worry that he's missing out on some great years when he could have the freedom and good health to enjoy new experiences and challenges without the pressure of a high-stress job. When I bring this up, he says he likes the job, he likes the money, and he doesn't know what else he'd do all day.

If you're a 65- or 66-year-old boomer who is still on the job, how do you feel about being in the workforce?

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May 30, 2012 at 9:26 am

I'm retiring from teaching at age 60. Taking my teacher retirement (such as it is!) and moving out of this country to a small Latin American country that is much more affordable for ex-pat pensioners. Hasta la vista Amigos!

John MacKay
May 29, 2012 at 7:40 am

Those still working actively at age 66, who are without health problems should probably continue working as long as they are able to do so. Many people, due to the state of the economy and also due to what I call the "younger is better" phenomenon, find themselves involuntarily retired. A 55 year old who loses a job has a greatly diminished likelihood of finding another job. This happened to my father, my father-in-law and to me. I took Social Security at age 62, as have many others in this category. the decrease in Soccial Security at age 62 is not made up until age 78, so it is often a wise decision for those unable to find work at age 62.
My father, a Chemist and the equivalent of a Chemical Engineer with many innovative manufacturing accomplishments, worked for a friend in the plastic laboratory table business after losing his primary job after 30 years due to a merger. His last job was driving a dry cleaners truck from one store to another.
My father-in-law was a Civil Engineer with a long standing job of 30 years, was given a retirement offer he couldn't pass up and moved to a golf community at about 60, and lived well without having to work again.
I worked for several companies in my career and each was successively bought up by larger companies and downsized. Some were downsized out of business. I started my own company at age 44 and managed to work there until I was 55. I was a manufacturer's rep and they went slowly out of style, in favor of distributors. I consulted for two companies and considered doing that at a third company in California but decided that the travel would be too difficult. And 62 came soon enough. I think many people will find similar situations in the future, working for many companies and in many technologies, through their working life. The arbitrary age of retirement, if that actually still happens in the future, will depend on the health and stamina of the individual.

May 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I have two millennials living in my house and any savings is being diverted to school loans - ours and theirs. Plus, I like my job. I am a lawyer, my second career, and it is something that I can continue doing until the brain gives out. Because state employee benefits will be substantially reduced in 2022, I will leave my current employer by then. I'll be 70. My hope is to relocate to northern New England and volunteer for conservation-outdoor recreation organizations, something I am already doing, but can do a lot more of if retired.

May 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I've been most fortunate in that my job has always been a hobby of sorts so I couldn't imagine retiring. In fact, in my line of work(piano tuning & repair), practically nobody retires(they stay productive until hearing problems or health issues would force them to stop).

May 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm

You want to help this economy? retire early so a young person can get a job. Old is a fact of life.

May 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I am in early retirementat the age of 58 do to health reasons. Do I like it? NO. Would I have taken early retirement, NO! I enjoyed my career and would have worked till I was 70.

May 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

My friends happily retired. Since the belt tightening of 2008 everyone is expected to do the jobs of 2 other people who were laid off in addition to their own job, with no increase in pay, just increased responsibilities. American businesses are killing Americans with stress for those with jobs and stress for those laid off. Quality has no where to go but down. Disappointed customers go someplace else to buy their wants and needs or keep the cash in their pocket. Your being surprised by retiring folks reaching retirement age is like the news stories back in 2008 telling folks to quit buying Starbuck's coffee and bring your own lunch then you can pay your mortgage because they were totally unaware of the balloon payments and the concept of underwater mortgages. How do you spell OUT OF TOUCH ???

May 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I agree and have been saying the same. It is counterintuative, but we should allow people to take SS at 55 (but reduce the amount of course so they'd get the same amount over their likely lifetime). Many upper middle class workers would retire at 55 I bet (especially if we can trim health care costs - we need MANY more doctors to immigrate). They say there is an engineering shortage - well, we're barely keeping up with inflation for 10+ years now. A pharmacist out of school make more than me after 19 years with a MSEE, nor are doctors hurting.

Almost There
May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

If the government really wanted to improve the economy and reduce unemployment they would implement incentives to encourage older workers to retire. Whenever a worker retires from the workforce, that position becomes open and available for those unemployed people. One reason unemployment has come down over the past year is due to the thousands of workers retiring each day. If all workers over 60 had an incentive to retire, the unemployment rate would drop like a rock. Why doesn't the government get serious about reducing unemployment?

May 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Ex is leaving at 66. He's underemployed and sees no point in hurting himself physically doing what he's doing any longer. A person w/an MS and a long history of corporate employment really doesn't need to be doing something in which he can injure himself badly.