Washington, DC - Webster's defines retirement as the "withdrawal from one's occupation."  But research over the past several years shows that American workers are "withdrawing" from their jobs in fewer numbers than ever before.

The newest study by Fidelity Investments and the Stanford Center on Longevity found that necessity is the biggest motivator for people to stay on the job longer than they had planned.  But, a majority of them who work past their so-called retirement age do so because they like it.

"When asked why they are working in retirement, 61 percent of respondents indicated that 'they like what they do,' and nearly half (48 percent) added that 'feeling valued' was an important reason to continue working in retirement," according to the research report.

Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, points out that older Americans are active these days and don't like the idea of giving up their careers.  "Seventy is the new 50, but some seniors feel like they are 40 years old again.  For one thing, people are not only living longer, they're living healthier, more active lives and so the concept of retirement has undergone a remarkable change."

There's no dispute that many older Americans need to continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65 to make ends meet.  But more and more of them want to stay on the job because it provides them with a sense of contentment; working makes them feel that they have purpose, Weber said.

The U.S. Census Bureau appears to back up Weber's assessment.  The Bureau reports that the labor participation rate for men between the ages of 65 and 69 grew from 27.9% in 1990 to 35.8% in 2010.  Remarkably, the rate for men 70 to 74 years old increased from 16.6% to 20.9%

The participation rate for 65 to 69 year old women in the last decade of the last century through the first decade of the 21st Century rose from 16.9% to 26.4%   And, for 70 to 74 year old women the rate grew from 8.4% to 13.5% in the same 20 year period.

Weber said that the trend among older workers will continue for decades to come, considering the fact that each and every day some 10,000 Americans celebrate their 65th birthdays.  And, they will be doing so for years to come.


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