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Study finds unretirement isn't healthy for everyone

Posted at 2:04 PM, Aug 29, 2022

Unretiring isn’t new, but the professions older Americans are coming back to are not the same.

It’s taking on new meaning for people like Robert Harris and Christine Smith. Both of them decided to go back to work but pursue a different field: trucking.

“I was just sitting around the house all day getting fat and I just got tired,” recalled Harris. “I thought I gotta get out and do something.”

Harris used to work in a factory as a crane operator.

Smith left a corporate job some time ago and help raise her grandchildren. She decided to go to trucking school to help make ends meet.

“I feel like once I’ve achieved this, the horizon opens for me to make choices, to save money, to establish a legacy, a foundation.”

After dipping below usual levels of 3% during the beginning of the pandemic, unretirements are back, according to data from Indeed.

There were similar trends in unretirement coming out of the Great Recession. Once the labor market heated up, more retirees were lured back onto the job, suggesting the employment market may have more to do with unretiring than inflation or lessening concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

But this time, more retirees are planning to return to work in an industry different than the one they left. Resume Builder found 58% of retirees are making the switch.

While the financial benefits of working longer are clear, the health effects are not. A review of literature published over the last decade on employment found mixed health results in those over 64. The review found extending working life may have some benefits or a neutral effect but more so in men, those working part-time, and those working in higher-quality jobs.

Extending working life in a full-time job or in a less rewarding role may have adverse physical and mental health effects.