For some, early retirement is a chance to do something else, to spend more time with family, or pursue a passion put off by work. But for others, early retirement, also known by the euphemistic “involuntary separation,” has been an unwelcome occurrence and reminder of people’s status within the workforce, and this trend has been increasing in recent times. Now, this year, as many businesses shed jobs in a cost-saving effort related to the pandemic, employers are using the pandemic as an excuse to force early retirement on employees reports the New York Times.
According to economists the once vaunted “experience” of older employees resulted in higher salaries and greater security. But this has been eroding in the face of a changing economy and a lack of enforcement of age-related employment discrimination laws. This trend has accelerated rapidly since March when the pandemic forced many companies to cut costs, shift to remote work, or shut down completely. Indeed, since March, according to figures, almost 3 million workers between 55 and 70 have left the job market and are not seeking work, with another million projected to follow suit by the end of the year. Researchers say this is twice the rate departure from the job market that the same age cohort experienced during the 2007-2009 recession.
As we’ve noted time and again, unemployment has been particularly devastating to women and people of color and older workers in those groups are experiencing great difficulty with many raiding their savings or retirement funds just to pay rent or buy groceries. Additionally, older workers in some industries, such as hospitality, construction, and education have seen significant job loss. When you add on top of this the tremendous burden of weighing health against employment, older workers are in a uniquely fraught position.