Mar 12, 2012, 9:05 AM
Post #1 of 1
Today we’re seeing the emergence of a whole new breed of seniors whose perspective on aging is different than that of any previous generation. For one thing, there is a trend among older individuals to continue working well beyond what used to be normal retirement age. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the economic turmoil that has wreaked havoc on many seniors’ retirement plans and part of the reason is that this new breed of seniors likes to work and their skill sets remain in high demand.
According to Statistics Canada the Canadian labor force above the age of 55 is actually growing. In 1997 30.5% of men over the age of 55 were employed. In the agency’s most recent report called, “Delayed Retirement: A New Trend?” that number has climbed to 39.5%. The statistics for women are even more startling, as during the same time period employment among women 55 or over has nearly doubled from 15.8% to a whopping 28.6%.
Many individuals retire and find that retirement doesn’t offer the same satisfaction, both financial and social, as working did and rapidly decide to unretire. The amazing thing is that the labor market can readily absorb older individuals returning to work for several reasons.
First, there is high demand for their experience and skill sets that many younger workers don’t possess. In addition, many seniors that decide to return to work do so on a casual basis, not necessarily taking on full-time work, but rather working on a project or casual basis, which suits the needs of many employers who aren’t looking to permanently increase their work force and need experienced individuals to handle specific projects.
Additionally, many retirees are starting businesses of their own either as consultants in their field of expertise or as entrepreneurs. The range of services offered by semi-retired individuals is staggering and includes specialties like personal trainers, marketing consultants, technical support services and of course, retail businesses.
One might think that in times when new jobs are limited that older individuals returning to work would affect younger workers’ chances of landing jobs. But apparently that isn’t the case. According to Craig Alexander, who serves as chief economist for the Toronto-Dominion Bank, our concern shouldn’t be about a shortage of jobs. “The broader story is an aging labor market; a slowdown in the population growth. I’m worried about labor shortages,” Mr. Alexander was quoted in Canada’s Financial Post newspaper.
As I wrote in these pages a year ago when I questioned whether retirement should really be our life’s goal: “Given that North American life expectancy is increasing almost logarithmically, one is inclined to ask, ‘What’s the hurry?’ How much golf can one play before the overload factor kicks in and it becomes old hat? Many people, who fervently anticipate retirement, find it tiresome after retiring. What’s more, there are numerous cases of individuals looking forward to retirement and once they do attain that stage in their lives, they are bored to tears, lose all interest in life and many become ill or die.
“Those who find themselves financially unable to retire might consider changing jobs to something that’s more enjoyable, perhaps even semi-retirement with a part-time job that guarantees some income, while allowing for more free time.”
Looks like on this issue I was ahead of the curve as that’s exactly what more and more mature people are deciding to do. But given the reality of our ever-increasing life spans through healthier living and improved healthcare, it makes sense that many of us need to augment our pensions and fill some of our spare time with rewarding and meaningful endeavors.
Klaus Rohrich is President and Creative Director of Taylor/Rohrich Associates Inc., a marketing and advertising firm that specializes in niche marketing retirement real estate developments