Listicle: The Human Impact of the Retirement Wave

See how the surge in retirement has affected workers across generational, racial, and gender lines. And what it means for the workplace.

America has been experiencing an unprecedented retirement wave. But lost in some of the headlines is the impact the wave has had on people—across generations, races, genders and educational backgrounds.

While it’s opened new opportunities for some groups, it’s also exposed vulnerabilities among others. 

Older Workers

Millions of Baby Boomers retire each year, but since the pandemic the numbers have grown. 38% of unemployed older adults stopped looking for work and exited the workforce1, and 1.7 million more older workers than expected retired due to the recession2. The silver lining? Some who retired prematurely may return as the job market improves.

Black Workers

Black workers without college degrees experienced the highest increase in retirement rate between 2019 and 20213. But many aren’t as prepared for retirement as they could be. For example, Black Americans have seven times less savings on average than white Americans4—evidence of the retirement race gap in America.

Latinx Workers

Latinx workers face a similar uphill battle as Black Americans when it comes to retirement readiness. While Latinx Boomers saw an uptick in retirement during the pandemic, Latinx Americans have five times less savings than white Americans, on average5.


The decline in the expected likelihood of working beyond age 67 was highest for women6. However, a new emphasis on flexibility and remote work options may help keep more women in the workforce.


By 2024, nearly three-quarters of the American workforce will be under 55 years old7, and the retirement wave may accelerate the rise and influence of Millennials at work. They’re already the largest generation in the labor force and will comprise 44% of all workers by 20258.

Generation X

They’re sometimes overlooked with all of the attention paid to Boomer and Millennial workers. But even members of Gen X have been part of the retirement wave, with some workers in their late 40s receiving early retirement offers along with their older colleagues. 

Workers Without a College Degree

Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 5% increase in the likelihood of non-college adults being retired9. The bigger story, however, is that older workers without a college degree had median household savings of only $9,000 in 201910, leaving them with a higher risk of poverty or near-poverty in retirement.

The Wave May Inspire Change

The retirement wave is provoking employers to think differently about how they design retirement benefits and financial wellness programs. With all of these challenges, it can help to speak to a knowledgeable professional. See how Morgan Stanley at Work can help deliver the solutions and guidance you need to help you thrive in this new environment. 

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