Older adults who retired and relocated are playing an important role in rural communities. As they move to these new cities and towns, they are finding part-time or seasonal work that is helping support local economies. In places like, Tennessee, older adults represent the majority of workers at Dollywood, one of the region’s largest employers and tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service now rely on older adults to serve as tour guides and help bridge the employment gap. This not only has a positive effect on the personal lives of older adults, but also on the local economy. Since 2010, rural counties have seen an increase in the older adult population which has resulted in increased retail, hospitality, and recreational services.
“[When older adults] retire, they don’t want to sit around and be idle, so they look for something fun and meaningful to do. It gives them a schedule.’’Tim Berry, Dollywood’s Vice President for Human Resources
Retirees are returning to work after leaving at a record pace since the start of the pandemic. Widespread labor shortages have led to employers creating new opportunities for older adults. This tailored support, coupled with inflation and the rising cost of goods, has lured many older adults back to work.
“This is the first time I’ve seen retirees become a targeted population. It’s very different from what we saw in the last recession, when older workers faced extreme discrimination in the labor market in a way that they never quite recovered from.”Amanda Cage, Chief Executive of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions
Some states report more than 1.5 million retirement-age adults have re-entered the workforce. But more research is needed to determine how many workers retired versus those who were “forced” out and more information is needed about the types of jobs they are filling.
‘I needed something to do’: How working in retirement is being embraced by older adults and companies
Many older adults are choosing to work long past the previously established retirement age while others are being lured back to work. Citing a report from AARP, MarketWatch outlines the growing number of employers that have designated themselves as “age-friendly” work environments to attract older workers. With 11.3 million job openings across the country, employers are in need of more experienced workers.
“That older cohort of workers is bringing a lot of creative energy and a lot of skill and a lot of expertise to the table. And so, it makes sense to keep that expertise as long as we can.”
As this phenomenon of older adults returning to the workforce continues to play out across the country, the Wall Street Journal created a helpful resource for older adults contemplating a return. It includes valuable questions older adults can ask themselves about new work opportunities to determine if they are ready to get back into the job market.
“New retirees sometimes make a similar discovery about their own happiness. Some people realize that days filled with leisure time aren’t ideal, after all. They miss the routine and camaraderie of work. So if you thought someone like you would be more satisfied in California, you should take extra care to update your retirement plans based on what actually makes you happy.”