Inflation has retirees eyeing a comeback — but age bias fears abound

About 12% of retirees say they’re likely to start working again next year, particularly due to inflation and a high cost of living, according to a Nov. 28 report by ResumeBuilder.com.

Two-thirds of retirees who may return to work said they fear age bias will affect their job prospects. In addition, about 1 in 4 Americans between ages 62-85 said they’re currently working.

“Clearly the driving factor for a majority of seniors returning to work is financial, but this is not the only reason for many,” Stacie Haller, ResumeBuilder’s chief career advisor, said in a statement.

“In my own practice, I often meet with retirees who find that they miss the camaraderie of working with others,” she said. “Many still want to be in the game and are not ready to just ‘play golf.’ Many are excited about trying something new or something they always wanted to explore.”

In the survey of 500 Americans between ages 62-85, the top reason for returning to work was inflation and increased cost of living (61%), followed by not saving enough money for retirement (34%), wanting to pay down debt (34%), and combating boredom (34%).

Among those considering a return to work, about a quarter said they are very enthusiastic and half are somewhat enthusiastic about the idea. About 59% said they want to seek a new job in a new industry, while 14% hope to return to a previous employer.

In terms of work schedules, 45% of retirees want to return to in-person work. About 32% said they would prefer a fully remote option, and 11% said they’d like to work in a hybrid role. The remaining 11% said they don’t have a work location preference.

At the same time, two-thirds of retirees surveyed said they’re concerned about age-related bias during the job search. Haller noted that most companies should understand employment laws and what can or cannot be asked during interviews.

“Professional skills that older Americans have learned over their many years of working are one of the reasons so many organizations are interested in hiring from this cohort,” she said. “Companies understand the value this group brings to an organization.”

Even still, some companies need to address “blind spots” and ageism in their recruiting efforts, several panelists said at an October event. This can include evaluating recruitment strategies and materials, as well as improving diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by including older workers in every pool of candidates being considered.

By the next decade, 25% of the U.S. workforce may consist of workers who are 55 and older, according to a Bain & Co. report. Companies can prepare by developing programs that effectively recruit, reskill and integrate an older workforce.