Due to labor shortages and inflation: more US retirees are returning to work
5 a.m. Somewhere between Massachusetts and Rhode Island: Robert Bleton is behind the wheel of his truck, watching the in-cab monitor. It shows three racehorses traveling in his trailer to a horse show.
A precious cargo that the 70-year-old was carrying across the northeastern United States before sunrise this morning. “I’m old,” he says, laughing. “I get up early anyway.”
On the road again In fact, Robert is now retired. After four decades and millions of kilometers traveled on American roads. One day, however, his phone rang.
“He was my former boss and he needed help,” he recalls.
“And I set off again.”
Many Americans are in the same situation. In the last year alone, 1.5 million have returned to the labor market, despite being retired. Some because they are lonely or bored, others out of necessity. The highest inflation in 40 years has dashed the dreams of many for a peaceful old age.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, many companies were racing to lay off employees for fear that their work and income would decrease,” said Jane Oates, president of an American non-governmental organization that studies changes in the labor market.
“Older employees were most often persuaded to retire early with promises of generous benefits. Many gladly accepted.”
The shortage of personnel in the transport sector is particularly large After US President Joe Biden announced the end of the pandemic, the lack of elderly employees is felt everywhere. The result is a scramble for employees.
For every job seeker in the US right now, there are two vacancies. The shortage of personnel is particularly large in the transport sector. According to industry estimates, there is a shortage of more than 80,000 drivers needed across the country. By 2030, this number is expected to double. Energetic retirees like Robert Bleton are desirable employees. He gets paid $300 a day for his travels. The man does not do it for the money, but he will find a use for it – for example, he will renew the heating in his apartment. After the death of his wife, his home is empty and lonely. That’s why he decided to go back to work.
“During the pandemic, my life fell apart,” he says. “Work gave him meaning again.” Retirees will be the first to lose their jobs in a recession Others, however, are far from willing to return to work. Sue Cheng Guise of Los Angeles, for example, worked 40 years as a flight attendant.
After her retirement, she can no longer afford to fly. Like many Americans, her income depends on an occupational pension funded by equity funds. As stocks fall, their retirement income falls. Since the beginning of the week, she is back at work – in a clothing store. For now, she only takes three and a half days of work a week, and her wages are significantly less than before. If rent and food prices continue to rise, however, she may soon have to work full-time again.
“I’m aware that I’m doing well so far,” she says.
“But I have to admit that I imagined my old age in a completely different way.” It is uncertain what will happen to retirees who have returned to work if, as expected, the United States slips into a recession in the coming years. When this has happened in the past, these people have always been the first to lose their jobs.
“If I were the owner of a company, I would try to keep the jobs of the pensioners at all costs,” says Jane Oates. “By 2030, there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 18 in the United States.”