The New Ideal Retirement Age


The age the typical worker expects to retire is no longer 65. For the first time this year, Americans expect to retire at an average age of 67, up from 66 in 2011, according to a recent Gallup poll of 1,016 adults. The average expected retirement age and been gradually increasing over the past seventeen years from age 60 in 1995 to 64 in 2005.

Some 39 percent of workers now plan to retire after age 65, up from 30 percent before the recession in 2007 and just 15 percent in 1995. Age 65 remains a popular retirement age, with just over a quarter (27 percent) of workers planning to retire then, a proportion that has remained fairly consistent over the past decade. Older workers generally expect to retire at a more advanced age than younger employees. Those age 40 and older are planning to retire at an average age of 68, compared to age 65 among people under 40.

The proportion of people who think they will be able to retire early has declined significantly over the past five years. Some 13 percent of workers are now aiming to retire in their early 60s, down from 18 percent in 2007. And the proportion of people who think they will retire in their late 50s has declined from 11 percent in 2007 to 7 percent in 2012. Just 6 percent of workers say they will retire before age 55, which is the same proportion of people who thought that in 2007.

Financial insecurity may be compelling many workers to delay retirement. "There has been a lot of fallout from the financial crisis," says Dennis Jacobe, Gallup's chief economist. "There was a huge loss of savings and investments and housing values and all of those things have hurt potential retirees." The Gallup survey found that the majority of current workers (55 percent) don't expect to have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, up significantly from 42 percent in 2007 and just 32 percent in 2002. The proportion of people who expect to feel financially secure in retirement declined from 59 percent to 38 percent over the same time period.

Younger workers are more optimistic about their retirement finances than those closer to retirement age. Employees age 40 and over are more than twice as likely to think they will not have a comfortable retirement (64 percent) than to think they will live comfortably (29 percent). People under age 40 are more evenly split between believing they will (48 percent) or won't (44 percent) have enough money in retirement.

However, the age retirees actually leave the workforce has not changed over the past decade. Retirees have left their jobs at an average age of 59 or 60 in every single year since 2002. About a third (34 percent) of people retired between ages 60 and 64, the most popular age range for retirement. And 14 percent of those surveyed retired exactly at age 65. Only 16 percent of retirees managed to work past age 65.

Early retirement was a common experience for current seniors. Many people (17 percent) retired in their late 50s and 18 percent retired before age 55.




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