Despite the fact that many older Americans retired early when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, a leading nonprofit says it's seeing more and more people 55 and older looking to stay in the workforce, or even "un-retire."
The pandemic drove more than 3 million adults into early retirement as of Oct. 2021, per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In an interview with Spectrum News, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh attributed that wave of retirements to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was fear of the virus, and I also think it was a work-life balance, where people were working lots of hours," Walsh added. "Then, all of a sudden, life kind of came to a very slow pace when it came to work."
"I think a lot of folks have been home now over a year ... saying. 'Wait a second, I kind of miss doing something,'" he continued. "A lot of those folks are re-entering the job market."
The Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is largely funded by the Labor Department, is a work and community service-based job training program that helps low-income older adults gain the skills they need to find and keep jobs. Participants can learn everything from improving their resumes to navigating new technology.
Since the spring, the program has been experiencing increased demand.
"We know with the recent inflation, a lot of the costs that people bank on being the same month after month have risen astronomically," said Maura Porcelli, a senior director at the National Council on Aging.
"We have a lot of people coming into our program now saying we just can't cover our costs on what we used to, not working is not an option," Porcelli added. "That's a big reason behind a lot of the people we're seeing coming into the into the program."
Porcelli says some individuals are hunting for jobs because the buying power of their Social Security benefits has diminished, among other reasons.
"They realize retirement wasn't quite what they thought it was going to be and they want that engagement. They feel they still have something to contribute to their fields of work," Porcelli added.
The program helps about 50,000 people each year. For more information about the program, click here.