Recession has older workers postponing retirement

The recession is keeping some older workers on the job beyond the time they intended to retire.

In some industries, such as nursing, that"s a good thing — it's helping ease worker shortages. In other workplaces, the lack of turnover is keeping younger workers from landing jobs.

Whatever the cause or ripple effect, two-thirds of Americans age 55 to 64 are in the work force — the highest participation rate among that age group since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track in 1948.

"Had the economy been stable, I wouldn't have given it a second thought," said Rick Wright, 60, an information technology worker for the city of Kansas City, who was eligible to retire but decided to stay.

"I'm no economic genius, but I'm afraid of inflation when they pump all this recovery money into the economy. I'll have a good retirement wage, but even then, I have to be careful."

Examples of similar deferred retirements show up across the U.S.

In Johnson County’s Blue Valley School District, where 30 to 40 teachers typically retire each year, this year's retirees numbered only in the 20s, said Jim Payne, executive director of human resources.

In Sacramento, Calif., Anette Smith-Dohring, work force development manager for the Sutter Health system, said some of its nurse-shortage problems had eased this year because many of its 60-and-older nurses were not retiring as expected.

United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said last month that the airline needed to furlough more flight attendants than expected because of markedly lower-than-expected retirements and resignations.

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