McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • American seniors increasingly remaining on the job

  • Since the 1990s, the number of Americans choosing to remain in the workforce rather than retiring has grown.
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  • Since the 1990s, the number of Americans choosing to remain in the workforce rather than retiring has grown.
    According to a study by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, older workers represent the fastest-growing segment of workers in the United States.
    A 2012 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report estimated by 2020, one-fourth of the American workforce will be 55 years old or older, up from 19 percent in 2010.
    Vic Macari, 77, of Canton is one of the many older people working well past retirement eligibility.
    After 39 years as a school teacher, 34 of which were spent at Canton-Galva Unified School District 419, Macari retired in 1998. Since then he has worked a number of jobs and is currently a part-time employee at Canton Grocery.
    When asked why he’s kept working into his eligible retirement years, Macari said it kept him active and around people.
    “I like to keep involved in the community,” Macari said. “We have a lot of new people in town, and I like to visit with them. I’m a very social person.”
    At the age of 70, Macari’s co-worker Orville Koehn could hardly be said to have a leisurely workload. a long-time farmer who spent many years as a mechanic, he retired from that trade due to its physical demands and became a major investor in Canton Grocery, which he serves as both president and head meatcutter.
    “The mechanic work was really getting to me,” Koehn said. “When the store was up for sale, I went in as a major investor and managed it for a while.”
    Like Macari, Koehn said social interaction was a big motivation in his remaining in the workforce.
    “We have people come in every morning and have breakfast,” Koehn said, “and it’s just great to be able to talk to these people about everything that’s going on.”
    Ruth Gass, a greeter at the McPherson Walmart, retired in 1995 after a long career driving an 18 wheeler with her husband. Gass said a job kept her out doing something and meeting people.
    “It gives me a goal to get up and get out in the public every day,” Gass said.
    The Associated Press-NORC Center study found Americans 50 and older were happy with their jobs, with nine out of 10 reporting they were at least somewhat satisfied with their employment.
    Few of these workers are trying to scale back the hours and demands made on them mentally and physically in the workplace, with many saying the mental requirements of their jobs have actually become easier over time.
    Sixty-two percent of the older workers in the study said their age was not an issue in their current career, with six in 10 reporting they felt younger than their age.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Associated Press-NORC Center study points to a strong economic motivation for people 50 and older to remain in the workforce, though. Seventy-five percent of study respondents said they were saving additional money from their jobs for retirement. Forty percent reported a need for extra income was a motivating factor in their job searches.
    During the course of the 2007-2009 recession the average retirement age in the United States increased from 57 years old to 62 years old.
    Koehn said his income from the grocery store has become an important supplement to his income.
    “We’ve cut back on farming over the last few years,” Koehn said, “and the money slows up in the winter. We have a daughter who lives in Mexico, and the extra money has come in handy so we could take a week to visit her.”
    Macari said the extra income gave he and his wife money for eating out.
    “We end up with leftovers when we cook,” Macari said, “and it’s more convenient to eat out.”
    Koehn said the notion of retirement was frightening.
    “I’m scared to retire,” Koehn said. “To me, the day you retire is the day you die.”
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