By Alyssa Chrisope
Nearly 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are still working, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the highest rate of employed older people since the 1960s.
Becky Hymes has worked as the human resources director for User Friendly Media for more than 14 years. She will reach retirement age in nine months from now, but she plans on working until she is 69.
This is the case for many who are Hymes’s age. As the Baby Boomer generation is hitting retirement age, the U.S. now has 9 million workers over the age of 65, the largest number ever.
Hymes said she went through experiences that set her back financially, so to feel comfortable in retirement, she will work for a few more years.
Her motivation for continued employment is common among people older than 65. Most retirees who responded to a study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies said earning money or benefits is at least one of the reasons they have continued working.
Linda Robinson, 73, a driver for Auto Inc., also said making ends meet is the reason she is working past retirement.
“I still work in order to have some extra money and to make my bills,” she said. “No one can really live comfortable off of Social Security.”
According to Hymes, a lot has changed in the workforce, but what strikes her the most is the diminishing loyalty to companies.
“Employees do not stay at one job for a very long time anymore,” she said. “[It] used to be you would start with a company and retire with a pension with the same company 20 or 30 years later. Now most people stay at a job two or three years in the average.”
Hymes sees an advantage in having been loyal to her company for many years.
“Staying at a job for a long time generally means increased benefits like more vacation and pay, not to mention familiarity with policies, procedures and company culture,” she said. “I love having seniority because employees depend on you for your company knowledge.”
Robinson agrees that older people have experience and skills that are not as common among younger generations.
“I don’t think an old person should retire to open up jobs for the young,” she said. “Just because a person gets old does not mean they aren’t capable of doing anything. In fact, most older people are more dependable than young ones and make a better employee.”
Robinson does not consider working at an older age challenging. She said she enjoys what she does and will do it as long as her health allows her to.
“It is difficult,” she said. “Older workers sometimes are slower at completing tasks. As I mentioned before, technology keeps changing, and it’s hard to keep up with the changes.”
Listen to more retirees explain why they are continuing to work in the video below.