An analysis of older unemployed Americans found that those with access to Social Security or pension benefits were more likely to stop searching for a job than those who don’t.
From 1996 to 2012, a brief by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that during any four-moth period 20 percent of those over 50 found jobs, 19 percent stopped looking and the remainder continued their hunt. All data was from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation.
Although health was a factor for many in deciding to stop a job search, the top reason was the availability of financial resources. For those age 62 when Social Security eligibility begins, about one in 10 stopped looking during any period studied. Access to a defined benefits plan had that effect on 7.2 percent and being in the top net worth quintile led 3.5 percent to stop looking.
The state of the labor market, which included two economic expansions and two recession over the 16 years analyzed, had only a modest effect on whether a job search was continued.
The brief noted that the dwindling number of defined benefit plans, longer life spans that will need larger 401(k) savings to sustain well being, and possible cuts to Social Security benefits could make it harder in the future for unemployed older workers to leave the work force earlier than they had planned.
Still, many baby boomers say they plan to delay retirement. Whether they can stick to that plan might depend on how well the economy bounces back from the Great Recession.
Getting workers to sock away enough money for retirement has been an ongoing problem for plan sponsors and advisors. Even when workers save, balancing early retirement spending with investment revenue and the need to pay for 20 or more years of living after fulltime work stops can be a challenge.