Rise of the unretired

Retirees used to spend their time sunning in Florida. These days, they’re going back to work

Driving the news: Move over quiet quitting, there’s a new buzzword taking the labour market by storm: “Unretiring’—the act of returning to the workforce after dipping out.  

  • According to a new survey by Edward Jones, a third of Canadians plan to work after retirement, while a third of new retirees struggle to find a sense of post-job purpose.

Why it’s happening: A mix of personal and economic reasons push retirees back to work. One major factor is that jobs give them a chance to socialize and stave off loneliness.

  • Isolation amongst seniors has been on the rise since the pandemic and is connected to a sad mix of health issues, including a higher risk of mortality.

Financial pressures also play a role for seniors living on fixed incomes as pensions, Old Age Security (OSC), and Guaranteed Income Supplements (GIS) fail to keep pace with inflation.  

Why it matters: As long as they are willing to accommodate the needs of retirees, a Great Unretirement could be a boon for Canadian employers dealing with a historic labour crunch.

  • Retirements shot up almost 50% last year and ~22% of Canadians are nearing retirement age. If some retirees return to work, the Grey Wave’s tide could turn.
  • In some cases, older workers can also bring missing expertise to workplaces and be more open to working the short shifts or odd days that younger workers shun.

Yes, but: There’s still a stigma around hiring older employees and physically demanding sectors that are understaffed, like construction, require younger, slightly more able bodies.

Bottom line: Unretirement has a shot at being a big win-win for retirees and employers. Here’s hoping these unretirments are more like Michael Jordan’s and less like Tom Brady’s.