“It’s disconcerting that the two years in which the U.S. economy seemed to finally, if fitfully, turn the corner also left so many more workers compelled to change their retirement plans late in their careers,” said Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board and a co-author of the report. “This may benefit some businesses and industries, by reducing labor shortages and skill gaps as experienced workers stick around. At the same time, their delaying retirement can be a significant obstacle to the many companies seeking to cut costs. Mapping out the implications of the trend for individual firms and the economy as a whole means first understanding the drivers behind workers’ retirement decisions.”According to the report, workers aged 45–60 who’ve experienced a job loss, salary cut, or significant decline in home price are much more likely to have plans for delaying retirement, and the proportion of respondents reporting each of those three misfortunes rose between 2010 and 2012. However, this only explains about half the increase in delayed retirement plans. The remainder, according to the report, reflects larger and longer-term economic and sociological factors, such as shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, lower interest rates on savings, better health and longevity, and increasing scarcity of post-retirement health benefits.
Sources: The Conference Board Press Release (February 1, 2013); Human Capital Exchange Blog (February 1, 2013)