Workers Trickle Back After Great Resignation

In the wake of the Great Resignation during the global COVID pandemic, some of the millions of older workers who left the job force over the past two years are slowly beginning to return after a pause to reevaluate their priorities.  But the future is still uncertain for many seniors and some Baby Boomers who retired recently are taking creative measures, like home-sharing, to save money. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of Americans over 55 who were working dipped sharply at the onset of the pandemic, falling 6 percentage points to 33.3 percent in March and April of 2020.  According to a recent Washington Post report, it is uncertain whether or not these workers will return to new jobs or remain retired. 

Much depends on how much older workers have saved, and if they have medical coverage or expenses like a mortgage or car payments that they would struggle to pay without a paycheck. The work/life balance question became clearer for many older adults during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  People also made career changes or left jobs to spend precious time with grandchildren or aging parents. 

But now, as COVID restrictions ease, and armed with vaccinations and new treatments, many boomers who participated in the Great Resignation to re-focus their lives, are beginning to return to work.  Some may take consulting positions or scale their work down to part-time to allow for more time to spend with friends and family, travel, and concentrate on passion projects.  Others, who experienced high-stress levels in their work or personal lives may be finally taking the time to downsize their homes, prioritize their health or perhaps finally get that knee replacement surgery. 

A recent survey from the staffing agency Express Employment Professionals found that 79 percent of workers between the ages of 57 and 75 said they would rather be semi-retired than leave the workforce completely.  Not only are finances a concern, but many boomers enjoy the structure and social connections work provides.  With part-time work, especially if done remotely, older adults can keep earning while enjoying greater flexibility in their lifestyle.