2012 Older Workers & Money Survey
Majority of people in their 50s and 60s sticking with their current jobs because they want to—not because they have to
Despite the social, economic and political trends that may compel people to work later in life, one of the most powerful reasons for people to stay in their jobs is personal fulfillment, according to Schwab's latest families and money survey.
Each year, Schwab conducts a new survey to explore the issues, attitudes and opinions affecting people at various life stages. The focus of this year's survey was working adults in their 50s and 60s with household income between $40,000 and $90,000, in which more than three-quarters (76 percent) say they are sticking with their jobs because they want to, not because they’re stuck and can't leave (24 percent).
Why are older workers content to keep working? Although money is still a leading factor for 61 percent, intrinsic motivators are close behind: 59 percent like what they’re doing; 49 percent like the people they work with; and 45 percent are simply not ready to retire.
Moreover, one in four (27 percent) say this is the happiest time of their working career, and another one in ten (11 percent) believe the best is yet to come. They generally start their workdays in a positive frame of mind, feeling "respected," "loyal," "valued," "happy" and "energized."
"Working is clearly about more than the money," said , president of Charles Schwab Foundation and senior vice president of Schwab Community Services. "Being in this age group myself, I can say from my own vantage point that the older segment of the workforce has a wealth of experience, perspective, talent and energy to offer their employers, and it's great to get that validation from our survey. The majority of older workers are very engaged and productive in their jobs, and employers should be pleased to see that they're happy in them, too."
Taking the pulse of their financial health
The survey also explored the relationship between workplace sentiment and workers' sense of financial security.
While a majority of workers (51 percent) characterize themselves as doing "okay" financially, others are struggling. Nearly a third (31 percent) feel they’re "just getting by" and another eight percent say they’re "falling behind." Only 10 percent say they are doing "well."
And while a greater majority express confidence that they'll have enough income to be comfortable in retirement (62 percent), their financial reality may not support that: nearly half (47 percent) have less than $100,000 in investable assets.
Wallets vs. waistlines
When it comes to wallets vs. waistlines, older workers are almost evenly split: 51 percent worry about their financial fitness while 49 percent worry about their physical fitness; and 48 percent worry about the weight of their debt while 52 percent worry about their body weight.
Older workers and their families
When it comes to their families, older workers worry most about the prospect of needing to take care of a spouse or other family member (67 percent), with more than one in every three respondents (37 percent) believing they'll be faced with care-giving obligations in the next decade.
With respect to personal responsibility for care-giving, many more women than men see this looming in their future (42 percent vs. 33 percent).
The majority of respondents worry to some degree about their children (58 percent), with 39 percent having at least one child living at home.
The difference a decade makes
There are some striking differences between people in their 50s and those in their 60s when it comes to overall contentment in the workplace. For example, despite being closer to retirement age, a significantly higher percentage of 60-somethings say they don't plan to retire (34 percent vs. 25 percent of 50-somethings). Moreover, nearly twice as many workers in their 60s say they just don't want to retire (32 percent vs. 19 percent of those in their 50s).
The opportunity in the workplace
With so many workers staying in their jobs longer, there is an opportunity for employers to tap the wisdom and influence of this corps of workers, educating them to help promote financial fitness for their younger colleagues.
"We know that employees who are knowledgeable about personal finance and who embrace good money management habits tend to be more focused and productive at work—probably because they have less to preoccupy and distract them," said Schwab-Pomerantz. "I also believe the workplace is an ideal classroom for adults. Employers might do well to consider recruiting and educating their older employees to serve as financial ambassadors to their younger workers. Peer influence can be a very positive, powerful force."
In fact, older workers tend to serve as mentors to their younger colleagues, with more than two-thirds of them (68 percent) providing advice on a range of topics, including how their younger colleagues can do their jobs better, how to handle professional issues and how to navigate around the organization.
So what's their single greatest piece of financial advice to someone young? Living within a budget.
About the Survey
The Charles Schwab Older Workers & Money Survey was conducted by Koski Research, an independent research firm, on behalf of Charles Schwab. The nationally-representative online survey polled 1,004 middle-income American workers between the ages of 50 and 69 from January 19 through January 30, 2012, to better understand their perspectives and outlook on working, financial well-being and retirement. Respondents had household incomes between $40,000 and $90,000. The survey was conducted using the Survey Sampling International panel. In reading the results of this study, the general rule of thumb is that the margin of error is about 3% on the total sample and greater when looking at results for specific subgroups.