Many more Americans are working into their 60s and 70s, and a good proportion of them say they're actually enjoying it.
That's one of the findings of a new Merrill Lynch study that polled more than 7,000 people across a broad range of demographics, including 1,856 who are working in retirement.
If the idea of nearing age 70 while toiling away in a cubicle fills you with dread, the study has reassuring conclusions: While some older adults feel stuck in jobs they hate, most of the retirees in Merrill's study found flexible and less stressful ways to make money, often with part-time jobs. They want to work to keep themselves sharp, and aren't taking boring, menial jobs out of financial need.
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"This isn't simply people hanging in there a little longer to pay the bills," says Ken Dychtwald, founder of Age Wave, the consulting firm that helped conduct the study. And people are giving themselves a break from working before diving back in. More than half of working retirees take what Merrill Lynch calls a "career intermission" that lasts an average two and a half years. When they do go back to work, three in five retirees find a different line of work.
It's a pretty rosy picture of working in retirement. Not everyone can afford to take a few years off, and it's not easy to find jobs that accommodate the lifestyles retirees say they want. A study this year by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College looked at 545 workplaces and found workplace flexibility is "still a myth to most." Employers might give workers options as to where they work, the study found, but rarely let workers reduce their hours or take temporary leaves.