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You Can't Delay Retirement If You Don't Have a Job
CNBC.com | September 26, 2011 | 09:39 AM EDT

It's become fashionable to say that longer life spans mean average Americans work well into into their 60s and possibly their 70s—what was once considered the early retirement years. The problem is, few prospects await most people who need or want to stay in the workforce.

“The harsh truth is that most employers have no great enthusiasm for gray hair,” said Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. “They prefer younger workers.”

Increased hiring in the health-care sector will address some needs, but hardly all. For most retirees looking to work longer, the landscape is bleak.

The number of unemployed workers aged 65 or over has more than doubled since 2007, to 6.7 percent from 3.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . For ages 55 to 64, the jobless rate has also more than doubled in the same time period to 7.1 percent from 3.1 percent.

The data suggest two very different forces are at work: One is that older workers are losing their jobs at a faster pace than younger ones; the other is that retired workers—some of whom left posts willingly years ago—have been forced to re-enter the workforce and are looking for jobs.

“There are not a lot of jobs out there,” says Munnell.

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