Retirees are returning to the workforce in droves: Here’s why

It used to be when you turn 65, most people put down the work and retire. However, the newest trend is “unretiring,” with as many as 20% of older workers rejoining the labor market in their 60s and 70s.

As of late 2023, there were nearly twice the percentage of Americans over age 65 working compared to the 1980s, according to Pew Research.

One example is walking into an Ace Hardware store, where you might find an associate like Ed Rooch.

This 74-year-old has been the “helpful hardware man” since retiring from a computer job in Silicon Valley almost 10 years ago. After a couple of years at home, he decided retirement wasn’t for him.

“Well, I’ve always been handy,” he said, “so this seemed like a perfect fit.”

So, like a growing number of people over 65, he returned to the workforce, in his case for 30 hours a week. And he’s loving it.

“It’s no pressure. But it’s also very challenging because everyone who comes in has a challenge,” he said.

Carly Roszkowski of AARP says that given the tight labor market, it makes good business sense for employers to hire older workers.

“We have seen an increased interest in hiring older workers nationally,” she said.

A major reason is inflation, which is battering the value of their 401k and monthly Social Security checks.

What to know before you apply

Roszkowski says a majority of older workers feel age discrimination can hurt their chances of getting a new job. So in your resume, highlight your skills, not your age, she says.

“Make sure you are highlighting your most recent experience. And while you want to include your credentials, you don’t have to include graduation dates,” she said.

And if you’re hanging on to an old Hotmail or AOL email account, upgrade to something more modern like Gmail. She also says it’s never too late to create a LinkedIn profile.

Millions of retirees like Rooch are now working again, whether for the money or to stay active.

“It’s something to do, or I wouldn’t know what to do,” he said.