By dint of their sheer number alone, baby boomers are an influential group. So when a group of about 78 million people decides to blaze a new trail, the rest of us have no choice but to follow their lead.
In this case, the baby boomers have begun to reshape the American workforce.
"A succession of surveys over the past decade makes plain the plans of a new generation of older Americans to keep working. Most of this research reveals that four of five boomers are expecting to continue working at the point when earlier generations moved to the sidelines," according to the MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures New Face of Work Survey. "Indeed, there is already evidence of shifting labor patterns on the part of the pre-boomers, as early retirement levels off and millions of older workers remain in the workforce. These polls also find that most people who keep working want more than an endless incarnation of midlife work. Instead, they are keen on renegotiating their relationship to work, looking for more flexibility and liberation from the long hours characterizing midlife labor in America today."
53 percent of adults aged 50 to 70 expect to work even into their retirement, according to the survey.
The survey focused on what baby boomers want to accomplish through their work once they have passed the traditional retirement age, and whether those desires meshed with what America will need to have people doing. Thankfully, rather than finding a huge disconnect between what baby boomers will want to be accomplishing and what will need to be accomplished, the survey found "heartening indications of what might well be a win-win opportunity of staggering proportions."
According to the survey, 50 percent of Americans aged 50 to 70 are interested in working--now or in the future--in positions that would help improve the quality of life in their communities. More specifically, of leading edge baby boomers, 58 percent are interested in such positions.
"There is overwhelming interest in finding specific types of work in retirement that would
serve the community and people in need," according to the survey. Of baby boomers who plan to work during retirement, 78 percent are interested in working to help the poor, the elderly
and others in need. 56 percent are interested in working with health issues, such as in a hospital or for an organization working to fight a particular disease. And 55 percent are interested in teaching or other educational positions.
Those surveyed gave a variety of reasons for why they will want to continue working past the traditional retirement age. The most common reasons included staying connected with other people; receiving a sense of purpose from working; earning additional income; and the ability to help improve the quality of life in their community.