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Working into 'retirement'

Once upon a time, "retirement" meant quitting work forever at age 65.

Today, that description no longer applies to many of the millions of Americans who are at or near traditional retirement age.

By 2016, workers age 65 and over are expected to account for 6.1 percent of the total labor force, up sharply from 3.6 percent in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some of these workers are people who don't want to be idle and are interested in beginning a second career, while others continue to work into the traditional retirement years because of economic necessity.

No matter what the reasons may be, the Minnesota Society of CPAs offers these suggestions for any of the millions of people who are changing the definition of retirement.

Keep a positive attitude

Layoffs, declining real estate values, investment losses to retirement savings accounts and dwindling pensions have forced many people to put off retirement much longer than they might have expected.

That's usually a disappointment, but it's possible to enjoy this situation more if you look at the bright side.

Despite a troubled economy, there should be many opportunities to work, since the generation that is now retiring is much larger than the one replacing them.

In addition, many people relish the chance to remain active, learn additional skills and chalk up new experiences.

Be aware of advantages

After decades in the workforce, you have a lot to offer an employer.

First, older workers are by definition more mature than those starting on their first jobs, so they are likely to be more dependable and have more experience in a professional setting.

Second, while young workers might job hop in order to add more experience to their resume, older employees generally are more likely to stay in place.

Do some research

If you are looking for a second career or simply a job to boost your income because of shrinking retirement savings, try to focus on the industries with the best outlooks and opportunities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Career Guide to Industries, for example, discusses training needed for specific jobs, the earnings and working conditions you can expect and what your job prospects might be.

You can find the guide and other employment information at the Bureau's site at www.bls.gov.

After you have determined where the opportunities exist, then consider what kind of training you'll need, how much it will cost and how long it will take.

Stick with current job

If you believe that you will need more money than expected in retirement, it's a good idea to stay in the position you have now rather than retiring and finding a new one.

Those who work longer typically qualify for higher Social Security benefits, as well as have the chance to sock away more retirement savings.

A few years longer on the job could increase your retirement income significantly.

The MNCPA provides free tax and financial planning information for individuals and small businesses. Visit www.mncpa.org for more information.

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