May 5, 2010
U.S. retirement age: Work till you drop?
You've probably heard it said that continuing to work into your golden years can keep your mind sharp and help stave off dementia. Good thing, considering how many older Americans can't afford to retire.
[Photo: Kevin Zollman]
As the Associated Press reported in 2009, "...about 17 percent of the work force is 65 or older -- a share on the rise since the late 1990s."
In the same article, the AP also wrote, "The average retirement age, which was between 62 and 63 for men and women last year, is on the rise, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. For instance, the percentage of 63-year-old men who were in the work force rose from 44 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2007..."
I'm guessing none of these statistics come as a surprise. But did you know that U.S. workers have a higher retirement age than most nations in the developed world?
According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2007, the age at which Americans were eligible to collect full retirement benefits was 65.8. (Of course, the institute reminds, U.S. workers willing to collect reduced benefits can put their feet up early at age 62 if they like.)
But, as the institute points out, the average retirement age of all countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is quite a bit lower: 63.5 for men, and 62.3 for women.
According to the institute, "Twenty-six of the 30 OECD countries have official retirement ages of 65 or younger. Only Ireland, with an official retirement age of 66, and Iceland and Norway, at 67, ranked slightly above the U.S...."
But that's not all. The institute states that here in the U.S., the retirement age is on the rise, despite the fact that U.S. workers have roughly the same life expectancy as our counterparts in most of these developed nations.
According to the institute, the U.S. retirement age is "currently 66 for most workers entering retirement (those born between 1943 and 1954), and it will rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later." And if we hit an average retirement age of 70, the institute says, it will place our nation "well beyond the age that workers in the rest of the developed world can currently retire and collect full benefits."
All the more reason to do your darnedest to find a career you like.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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