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Myths of working longer

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, July 23, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

It's easy to talk about working in retirement when you have a desk job. But lots of people don't, and the physical demands of the trades -- almost any of them -- make it unrealistic for lots of people to include working past 62 in their retirement planning.

So I have to applaud 78-year-old Roger Groen, who is still working 5.5 days a week picking up trash from commercial buildings in the Chicago suburbs. According to the trade magazine, Waste and Recycling News, this is Groen's 63rd year in the business -- he started working for his dad at 15. Now he works for his sons, who took over at Groen Transportation Inc. a few years ago.

Groen, who starts work at 3:50 a.m., says he doesn't have any plans to quit. He tried golf and found it "aggravating." He told Waste and Recycling News, "You don't know nothing but garbage. You've got to have something to do. You need a job."

Working longer can be the answer to financing retirement, but it isn't as easy as a guy like Groen makes it look. In a white paper published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Director Alicia Munnell reflects on what she calls "Myths and Realities about Working Longer." Here are some of her surprising truths.

Myth: As baby boomers approach retirement, employers will embrace older workers.
Reality: Many employers are lukewarm toward retaining older workers due to concerns that they cost too much, lack current skills and don't plan to stick around long.

Myth: Employers will quickly change their tune in response to labor shortages.
Reality: Many employers with a high proportion of older workers are in declining industries. Others can tap global labor markets.

Myth: Phased retirement -- shifting to part-time employment with a career employer -- is the solution for keeping people in the workforce longer.
Reality: Many firms are reluctant to offer phased retirement due to concerns over which workers would be eligible, health insurance costs and part-time schedules.

Myth: Most workers can work longer by remaining with their career employer.
Reality: Career employment is declining fast -- only 44 percent of male workers ages 58 to 62 are still with their age-50 employer, down from 70 percent two decades ago.

If you can stay on the job, do it, but putting yourself in a position where you don't have to work in retirement is a much better option.

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