Boomers Retiring in Droves Amid Pandemic

Older workers lost jobs faster and were slower to return to workforce
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2021 7:56 AM CDT
Retirement of Boomers Accelerates in Pandemic
A 1953 file photo of young baby boomers. Retirement has accelerated for that generation during the pandemic.   (AP Photo, File)

The pace of retirements among baby boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964, accelerated during the pandemic, a Pew Research Center analysis of monthly labor force data found. The number of boomers who reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement grew 3.2 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the previous year, per the AP. Before the pandemic, the number of retired boomers had been growing an average of 2 million each year since 2011, when the first boomer turned 65. Some people retired to avoid COVID-19 exposure, while others may have been nudged to “seize the day” by the pandemic’s reminder of our mortality. But massive job losses may have forced many into early retirement, economists and financial planners say.

Older workers lost jobs faster and returned to work slower last year than midcareer workers, according to a study by the New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis that tracked unemployment from April through September last year. The study found that for the first time since 1973, workers 55 and older faced persistently higher unemployment rates than workers ages 35 to 54. Certain older workers—women, Black people, and those without college degrees—were even more likely to lose their jobs. Also of note: Fewer federal employees retired in 2020 compared with the two previous years, perhaps because they found working from home agreeable. An analysis found that 92,008 federal employees retired in 2020, the fewest since 2010 and down from 101,580 retirements in 2019 and 107,612 in 2018.

(More baby boomers stories.)

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