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Why More Americans Are Retiring Now Than Ever

Retirement Funding Insights

It's been coined the "Great Resignation." This is the term they are using to describe the unprecedented number of Americans leaving their jobs—some for new opportunities, others are taking a leave of absence, and a third group, especially older Americans, for retirement. While thousands of columns have been written on this matter - but WHY?

The most natural answer usually revolves around COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has bled into every aspect of our lives, in fact, it’s harder to find someone or something that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. While some people are choosing to stay home because they don't want to risk illness going to the office, the full picture is a bit more complex, especially for those with jobs where remote work isn’t an option. But the biggest factor at play and it's been a long time coming without much attention in the media because of other more pressing world events. I call it the Grey Tsunami which is just the sheer number of baby boomers now reaching retirement age

The Baby Boom Meets the Retirement Boom

A tidal wave of retirees is washing over the country. But reaching retirement age now has a different meaning than it has in the past. In today's world, many retirees start a business, take on part-time work, or pursue their charitable goals and work for charities or nonprofit organizations. 

The oldest baby boomers turned 62 in 2008. This happened right as the world entered the "Great Recession,” when the stock market and real economy declined, due to a "sequence of returns risk"1 this represented a less-than-advantageous time to start retirement. Many people decided to stay in their jobs while others were forced to stay a few extra years. 

In 2021, the economy had distanced itself from those events and faced new developments. Just over half of adults aged 55+ exited the workforce and retired. For adult Americans aged 65 to 74, that percentage skyrocketed to 66.9%, just over two-thirds of this population.2

Catching Up

So, rather than seeing everyone head to the door simultaneously, this time we’re seeing a bit of a “catch-up” period.  The pandemic created a transition period of sorts, in which people decided that it was a natural time to work less, do new things, or retire completely.

The pandemic has gone on way longer than any of us could have imagined. Examining this context makes it easier to see why someone reaching the end of a long and rewarding career might choose to exit the pattern of working and parachute into a less stressful, more enjoyable paradigm.

Is It Your Time, Too?

This period of mass retirement may have you thinking you want the opportunity to cast off the yoke and ease into retirement. Despite the large numbers of people making this big transition, it is important to remember that moving with the crowd isn’t always the best action.

It’s also possible that now is the perfect time to transition into a different opportunity for your last few years of work. Maybe there is a  business you always wanted to start. Now could be a great time to put it into action. Or perhaps you want to transition into a new role at your current company or with a different firm that will be less demanding when you finally transition into retirement. This is also a great idea.

If you think now is the time, the first step should be to set up some time to speak with a professional. Someone who can look at your overall financial position and give you a better understanding of where you are along with any potential drawbacks or advantages to retiring in the current environment.

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About the Author

James M. Comblo, CFF
is a Partner and the Chief Compliance Officer at FSC Wealth Advisors. His greatest passion in the financial services industry is helping clients accomplish their dreams both with investments and their personal lives. To learn more about him click here.


  • https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sequence-risk.asp
  • https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/11/04/amid-the-pandemic-a-rising-share-of-older-u-s-adults-are-now-retired/