For Many, ‘Retirement’ Means Getting a Job

Senior citizens are pictured in a retirement home. (AP Photo)
Senior citizens are pictured in a retirement home. (AP Photo)

(CBS News) – The “I’m outta here” retirement, where you triumphantly wave goodbye to your full-time career and never again work for money, is more the exception than the rule these days. That’s one conclusion from a report on retirement patterns that offers evidence American workers are redefining the concept. For many people, retirement is more of a process that unfolds over many years rather than a one-time event.

Researchers from Boston College and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics studied the patterns of how older workers left the workplace from 1992 to 2010. They examined data on about 20,000 Americans age 50 and over from the respected Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) conducted by the University of Michigan. They found four distinct paths that older workers use to exit from a full-time career job:

  • Traditional retirement, which is a one-time, permanent exit from the workforce
  • Bridge job, where an older worker leaves their full-time job and immediately starts either a part- or full-time job with a different employer
  • Phased retirement, where the worker reduces their workload at their current employer
  • “Unretirement,” where a worker leaves employment for a period of two or more years but then returns to work


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