News Channel 3 Goes In-Depth: “The Great Unretirement”
Throughout the pandemic, millions of Americans quit their jobs or retired in what came to be known as "the Great Resignation." But there are new signs many people are rethinking their choices.
With inflation the highest it's been in decades and predictions of a coming recession, many retirees are now going back to work, including in the Coachella Valley.
At Ace Hardware in Palm Springs, 65-year-old Terri McMichael enjoys helping customers. "I've always loved this store, and so I came in one day and here I am," she said.
After retiring a few years ago from a career in real estate and design, McMichael recently decided to work five days a week at the store. "I could not sit still," she said. "Plus, with the economy I had to supplement."
The nation's financial woes are hitting many people hard. A recent survey found 25% of Americans are delaying their retirement. In addition, 1.5 million retired people have been forced to go back to work. The trend is being called "the Great Unretirement."
"It's about bringing work into the traditional retirement years," author Chris Farrell said. He is the author of "Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are changing the way we think about work, community and the good life." He said people are living longer, and the notion they can depend solely on savings and social security is increasingly unrealistic.
"Are more people becoming unretired?" News Channel 3's Peter Daut asked Farrell. Farrell replied: "Everything is more costly. And if you're living on a fixed income, or you have a fixed income with social security, then you have some retirement savings above that, you start worrying about 'Am I going to go through my money too fast?'"
But finding work can be a challenge for many seniors, including 74-year-old Cathy Montenegro, who never imagined she would be in this position. Many employers require job seekers to apply online, something she's never had to do before. "It seems like everything is online. So I have to brush up on the computer, and on how to manage that," she said.
Something else she worries about: age discrimination. But experts say the nation's low unemployment rate means the demand for workers is high, so employers may be more willing to hire older workers. "Because the fact of the matter is that's a pretty good labor pool for them to tap into," Farrell said. Daut asked: "Is it more challenging for someone to become unretired in a community like Palm Springs where there are so many retirees?" Farrell replied: "Not necessarily. The business owners become comfortable working with an older workforce because that's who's knocking on the door, that's who's applying for work, that's who's in their community. And the fact is it can be a really smart business move because they also understand the customer."
As for Terri McMichael, she loves keeping busy at the store and hopes to stay employed there for a long time. "It's a great place to work, and it's me!" she said. "I'm very happy."
A recent survey from Quicken shows nearly half of those who planned to retire this year have put that plan on hold. Another 25% of 58 to 74 year olds who were not planning on retiring this year are now considering delaying retirement even further out.
Here is a link to the survey from the Bank of Montreal: https://newsroom.bmo.com/2022-05-31-BMO-Real-Financial-Progress-Index-Inflation-Causing-a-Quarter-of-Americans-to-Delay-Retirement