Retirement is a financial goal most Americans strive to achieve, but some retirees are heading back to work as a way to earn more money after market volatility and inflation impacted their financial outlook. Unretiring isn’t necessarily a bad thing and remote work can help make the transition back to the workforce seamless.

Here’s what else you should know about the unretirement trend.

Key unretirement statistics

  • 1 in 6 retirees are considering a return to work and more than half of them want remote positions, according to a recent Paychex survey.
  • 41 percent of U.S. adults who aren’t financially secure say it is because of insufficient retirement funds, a Bankrate survey found.
  • 39 percent of U.S. adults who say money concerns negatively impact their mental health cited being unprepared for retirement as a concern, according to a recent Bankrate survey.
  • 62 percent of U.S. adults consider being able to retire part of the “American Dream,” a Bankrate survey found.
  • The number of people age 65 and older working or seeking work has increased by 144 percent in the past 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Older Americans are re-entering the workforce

The Covid-19 pandemic saw more Americans retire than normal, with 4.2 million people leaving the labor force from the start of the pandemic to the second quarter of 2021, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. As of August 2021, there were just over 2.4 million excess retirements due to the pandemic.

Covid-19 brought several factors that contributed to the spike in retirements. First, the pandemic made it unsafe to gather in large groups, so workers who couldn’t work remotely may have been forced to retire if they wanted to stay home. There was also an abundance of government programs implemented to help navigate the pandemic including stimulus checks for millions of Americans. Finally, after falling initially, the stock market boomed throughout 2020 and 2021, causing retirement portfolios to reach new heights and allow workers to retire.

But now that the pandemic has ended, workers who retired may be reconsidering their move. They may find they need extra money after stocks and bonds fell in 2022, or they may just miss the fulfillment that comes with having a job.

The percentage of retired workers returning to work grew from 2.1 percent in June 2020 to 3.2 percent in March 2022, according to an analysis by Indeed.

Why are people coming out of retirement?

People decide to return to the workforce for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common are needing more money, boredom and the need for health insurance.

The need for more money was the top reason people returned to work after being retired, according to a Paychex survey. Many other reasons given also were tied to not having enough saved including inflation concerns, the need for health insurance, stock market volatility and the fear of outliving your savings.

A recent Bankrate survey found that 21 percent of U.S. adults say their biggest financial regret is not saving for retirement early enough. Saving early for retirement can help make sure you have enough money set aside once you’re no longer working.

The regret of not saving for retirement early enough tends to rise as you get older, with Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation having the highest percentage of adults with that regret.

How remote and hybrid work can help

Going back to work can be challenging for retirees, but more flexible work schedules can help make it easier. Attitudes are changing about remote or hybrid work schedules where you’re only in-person for part of the week. Some employers are even moving to four-day work weeks, which is supported by older workers.

U.S. adults age 55 and older who are working full-time or looking for full-time work largely support flexible work schedules, according to a recent Bankrate survey:

  • 79 percent support a four-day work week
  • 52 percent support a hybrid work schedule instead of fully in-person
  • 50 percent support a fully remote work schedule

You may also consider a side hustle as a way to earn extra income without fully returning to the workforce during retirement. About 24 percent of Baby Boomers had a side hustle, according to a Bankrate survey. The average American with a side hustle earned $810 a month from their side hustle, Bankrate found.

FAQ section

  • Age is the biggest factor in determining whether your Social Security benefits will be impacted by a return to work. You’ll need to figure out where you fall in regards to full retirement age. If you’re at full retirement age and decide to return to work, your earnings won’t be affected. Those younger than full retirement age will have benefits deducted. You may also be able to withdraw your Social Security application, but will need to pay back any benefits you’ve already received.
  • The amount of money needed to retire will depend on an individual’s unique circumstances. The right number will be different depending on how you want to live during your golden years. You’ll want to think about your annual expenses, how long you may live for and the investment returns you expect to generate during retirement. One common formula is known as the 4 percent rule, which involves never withdrawing more than 4 percent of your funds in a given year. Based on this formula, you can multiply your annual income needs by 25 to get the total amount you may need.
  • Once you’re retired, you’ll still want to generate investment returns to help keep up with inflation and ensure your savings last as long as possible. But those returns will likely be lower than they were when you were accumulating savings because the money will be invested more conservatively. In general, retirees should shift their portfolios toward safer investments such as bonds and away from riskier investments like stocks. You may still want to own some stocks in retirement, however, as they can help meet your return requirements.