As Portfolios Recover, More Workers Retire At 65

Many older baby boomers — those already 65 — are choosing to go ahead with retirement rather than wait. That's according to a study by MetLife, which says 45 percent of 65 year olds described themselves as "fully retired." Only 5 percent retired later than planned.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. It's conventional wisdom that many people will have to work past retirement to make ends meet. But let's look a little more closely at that. There are more people staying in the workforce longer and yet, for everybody the story is a little different.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that a recent study shows almost half of all Americans are fully retired by age 65.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: The survey, done by a research arm of MetLife, showed half of respondents retired earlier than they expected - at an average age of 59 years for men and 57 years for women.

Researcher John Migliaccio of the MetLife Mature Market Institute looked at the percentage of people fully retired by age 65.

JOHN MIGLIACCIO: I was surprised that there was such a big jump.

NOGUCHI: It increased from 19 percent four years ago to 45 percent last year. And he says it's not because people were forced to retire early or laid off. On the contrary, the number one reason people are retiring today is because they feel financially secure. Stock portfolios and other benefits have recovered some ground.

But not everyone is so fortunate. A fifth of surveyed retirees said they feel pessimistic about their future financial prospects.

MIGLIACCIO: There's also a significant number of them who are in retirement because of a disability. I think that's another issue that isn't looked at - that a lot of people just can't continue working

NOGUCHI: The population is growing, and people live longer, which is why more older workers stay in the labor force longer. Migliaccio cites his own mother -nearly 90 years old and still working.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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