Heading Back to Work After Retiring

BY David Pelcyger and Elizabeth Shell  June 13, 2013 at 2:40 PM EDT

Video shot and produced by David Pelcyger.

After 12 years working for the federal government, Charles Smith III took an early retirement. Two years later, at 63, he’s back working part-time as a produce clerk for $10 an hour to support his daughter in college.

“I’m not going to let this girl graduate with $80,000 worth of debt. That’s insane,” Smith explained.

Smith is part of a growing trend: folks heading back to the workforce after they retire (or putting off retirement indefinitely). Many, like Smith, do so for financial reasons. Others, to make themselves feel useful or for the sheer joy of it.

So, is retirement as we know it a thing of the past? How long are we likely to work? We have spent the past year looking at the factors — demography, economics and just plain personal preference — that help explain what’s happening to the American workforce as it ages in our special project, New Adventures for Older Workers.