A late-career job switch may be a boon for a financially secure retirement.
Workers who voluntarily change jobs in their 50s tend to stay in the workforce longer than those who stick with their initial job, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. According to a new paper, the likelihood of still being in the workforce at age 65 was 9.1 percentage points higher for workers who had changed jobs. (See chart below for breakdown by education.)
"If you're able to find a job that to you seems better and worth a switch, on average at least that seems to lead to longer careers," said co-author Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research.
That's good news, considering that half of workers expect to work at least part time in retirement, according to a 2016 survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. For many, that long career is out of necessity: A quarter of workers said they expect to keep working because they need the money, and 30 percent said it's because they can't afford to retire.
Others are looking at their golden years as a chance to do something new. Asked how they "dream" of spending retirement (respondents could pick multiple answers), 13 percent of workers told Transamerica they want to pursue an encore career, 12 percent said continuing to work in the same field and 11 percent said starting a business.
There's always some risk in leaving one job (and a steady paycheck) for a new one that may not pan out — and older workers can face discrimination that can make it tough to land a new gig, said John Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
But the current job market is good for those considering a leap. Unemployment is low, he said, and there are also more part-time and consulting job roles available for workers who want flexibility in their encore career.
"It's a way better time to take that chance now than say, five years ago," Challenger said.