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Workers are postponing retirement amid the pandemic and it’s not helping unemployment numbers

Posted at 10:28 AM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 12:28:19-04

Another 1.2 million people filed new jobless claims last week, according to the Department of Labor’s latest jobless claims report, and 16.1 million people had continuing claims. There are many reasons why finding a job right now is difficult, but one reason may involve the number of people holding off on retirement.

“My career has been absolutely wonderful,” said Peggy Morriston Outon. “Because I am privileged to be around people who want the world to work justly and fairly.”

For 40 years, Outon has worked in non-profit and is currently the assistant vice president for community engagement and leadership development at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. This May, she was planning on retiring.

“I decided I was going to let this job open, a job I have loved and benefitted from, and have somebody else have a chance and see what they could do with it,” said Outon.

However, a few months before retirement, the pandemic hit the United States and Outon’s plans had to change.

“They were not going to be able to re-fill my position because of economic challenges with COVID, so all of a sudden, my desire to open up a position and leaving more work for my co-workers,” Outon added.

Outon has now delayed her retirement indefinitely. She’s part of a growing number of Americans doing so because of COVID-19. In fact, the non-profit organization, Life Happens, just conducted a survey that showed 43 percent of adults have either already delayed retirement or are considering it.

“It kind of has to do with the uncertainty of what this is going to look like, this pandemic’s effects on long-term and short-term finances, said Fasia Stafford, the president and CEO of Life Happens.

“What we also found interesting was that the younger folks were delaying it even more than the older folks, so when you are looking at folks from 18 to 23, they are thinking that this is going to have long-term effects on them, that their retirement age might be delayed because of what is happening currently.”

Currently, it doesn’t help with our country’s high level of unemployment, having so many people postpone their retirement. It negates the natural cycle of people exiting the labor market and making room for newer people to enter.

“It is important for society,” said Outon. “I think it is healthy for younger people to get their chance and for there to be ability for them to make decisions and be in charge frankly.”

If retirement nest eggs keep cracking because of economic recessions hitting almost every decade, those chances are going to be more and more delayed.