Gallup: People are retiring later in life

A Gallup poll released today shows the average age of retirement has risen to age 62, up from age 59 in 2002. The expected retirement age for non-retirees has also risen to age 66 since 2002, when the expected retirement age was 63. That trend could help Maine, which the Maine Development Foundation projects will have a declining labor force out to 2020. For the same time period as the Gallup survey, it’s clear that labor force participation among older age groups in Maine is on the rise.

The poll cites various possible reasons for the later-retirement trend — damaged savings through the Great Recession, increasing life spans, baby boomers’ reluctance to retire.

In Maine, of course, there are structural issues beyond changing tastes and investment outlooks that are making the state — and its work force — older (see this population chart from the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information for a view of those issues, at a glance).

In the MDF report, part of the group’s strategy to increase the work force by 65,000 included increasing labor force participation among people 65 and older.

If you want a closer look at how the demographics of Maine’s work force are changing, poke around at this excellent Tableau dashboard, also from the CWRI.

In the first tab — changing the view to the civilian labor force participation rate and looking at the years from 2002 to 2013 (like so) — we see the number of people over 65 and working rose more than 8 percentage points. Similarly, the percentage of people ages 55-64 that are working or actively seeking work rose 9 points for the same period, during which the total labor force participation rate dropped one percentage point to 65.4 percent.

For both of those older age groups, the number in the labor force nearly doubled during that time period in Maine, according to the CWRI and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

All but the 20-24 age group had fewer people in the labor force in 2013 than in 2002. The 20-24 category increased just 5,000 compared with the 22,000-person increase in the over-65 category and the 64,000-person increase in the 45-54 group.

It’s clear that Maine faces a demographic challenge ahead, one for which changing tastes and needs that are driving up the average age of retirement stand to at least help keep skilled older workers in the labor force for longer.

All of that said: When do you plan to retire? And how do you think Maine can address its demographic challenges?

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.