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July 24, 2021, 1:31 p.m. EDT

While many are looking for work, some older workers are jumping at the chance for a new start

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Chris Farrell

This article is reprinted by permission from  .

You probably heard: Meghan McCain is leaving ABC’s “The View” after nearly four years. Among her reasons for quitting is that COVID-19 “has changed the world for all of us,” she told the Guardian. “It’s changed the way I’m looking at my life, the way I’m living my life, the way I want my life to look like.”

Few of us have the net worth or name recognition of Meghan McCain, who’s 36. Yet her sentiment resonates among many who’ve worked throughout the pandemic, often tethered to their computers at home.

Record numbers of workers are part of what’s been dubbed “The Big Quit” or “The Great Resignation,” as economies emerge from the pandemic. If a recent Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -1.75% survey is even close to the mark,  41% of the global workforce plan on saying goodbye to their employer and colleagues this year.

Many of the quitters are, and will be, people 50+. Some for greener pastures at other employers or ventures they’re starting; others for retirement.

The flurry of emailed farewells and virtual goodbye gatherings around the U.S. lately reflect worker confidence that the U.S. economy’s rebound is strong enough that they’re willing to take a risk and leave their jobs.

Demand for workers means options for some

Their timing is savvy considering how strong the demand is for workers.

Companies are fighting for talent, and that’s the definition of a good market for anyone looking to voluntarily change jobs. Generally speaking, household finances seem unusually supportive for funding a job search, too. Economists estimate Americans accumulated an excess of $2 trillion in savings during the pandemic, though they are quick to add that many are struggling.

Seasoned workers with retirement savings plans have done well lately since the markets have been strong and 401(k) contributions have remained relatively steady. Home values also rose sharply during the pandemic in many places, and older Americans tend to be homeowners.

“In a world where workers don’t have a lot of power, quitting is the one bargaining chip they have,” says Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And, he added, many older workers “have something they’ve wanted to do for a while” — which could be starting a business, following a passion or retiring.

Something else is at work, though.

For the past two decades, the combination of stagnant wages and job insecurity deterred many people from quitting while older workers had the added concern of age discrimination.

See: These workers would quit their jobs, but worry about losing health care

The ‘life is short’ phenomenon at work

But the social isolation endured by so many during the pandemic and the trauma following the murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer pushed many to rethink and reimagine what they were doing with their lives and at work.

“With so much change upending people over the past year, employees are re-evaluating priorities, home bases and their entire lives,” according to the Microsoft report. “So, whether it’s due to fewer networking or career advancement opportunities, a new calling, pent-up demand or a host of pandemic-related struggles, more people are considering their next move.”

Among those considering their next move are Nancy Collamer’s clients. A retirement coach based in Pennsylvania and a popular Next Avenue contributor, Collamer has been hearing from people looking for help figuring out their next chapter.

One motivated longtime volunteer lost her husband (not from COVID-19) during the pandemic. The combination of his death and the coronavirus cloud have convinced the woman that life is fleeting and things can change on a dime. She’s now driven to find a more purposeful path with her volunteer work.

A client of Collamer’s in the financial services industry realized during the pandemic how much he enjoyed being with his family. He now dreads traveling for work and is looking to make a job change, possibly a career change.

“A common thread is that the pandemic gave them the time to pause and think about what they wanted to do with their lives,” says Collamer.

Job changes and longer work lives

To be sure, money isn’t an obstacle with her clients. Nevertheless, for anyone able to take the leap there’s intriguing evidence that voluntary job changes among late-career workers lengthen their work lives.

Don’t miss: Expect a 10% or worse correction in U.S. stocks by mid-August, says this forecaster with a proven track record

Take research by Sanzenbacher, Steven Sass and Christopher Gillis at the Center for Retirement Research. They looked into voluntary job changes by workers ages 51 to 61 from 1992 to 2012 and followed them to age 65. They discovered that a voluntary job change was associated with a 9.1% increase in the likelihood of remaining in the labor force until 65.

/zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 299.87
-5.35 -1.75%
Volume: 41.37M
Sept. 17, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
37.23
Dividend Yield
0.83%
Market Cap
$2253.49 billion
Rev. per Employee
$928,663
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