At least 1.7 million more older workers than expected retired due to the pandemic as of the second quarter of 2021, according to a report released by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis.
As noted by researchers, older workers faced more health risks and job losses than other demographics.
The increase in retirements stemmed from primarily people ages 65 and older – retirements among this age group rose 1.7 percentage points compared with 0.3 percentage points for workers ages 55 to 64.
Older workers without a college degree also retired in greater numbers when compared with their college-educated counterparts.
In fact, college-educated workers ages 55 to 64 – who may have had their incomes or hours reduced – were more likely to delay retirement, which researchers said could be an effort to make up for lost income. College-educated workers ages 65 and older saw retirement rates – including voluntary and involuntary – rise by 3.2% during the pandemic.
Black workers without a college degree experienced the highest jump among workers who retired before the age of 65 during the observed time period.
At the height of the economic recession spurred by the pandemic, the U.S. had lost an estimated 22 million jobs. As of July, the U.S. had about 5.7 million – or 3.7% – fewer jobs than February 2020.