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9 to 5—at 75

SmartMoney (03/13/12) Anne Kadet

For millions of workers, retirement has been delayed for years, with some saying they may never retire. The number of working people over age 65 reached an all-time low in 2001, when just 13% held a job. Now that rate is rebounding, and fast; last summer, it hit 18%, the highest level since 1962.

Some employers are beginning to appreciate the unique strengths—people skills, accrued wisdom, and a strong work ethic—that seniors can bring to the table. Principal Financial created a formal staffing program that brings retirees back for part-time temporary work while they continue to collect pensions. “They know the culture and they know their way around,” says human resource director Polly Heinen. The typical employee returns three to six months into retirement, taking short-term assignments doing clerical or administrative work for 10 to 20 hours a week. However, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, just 6% of U.S. companies offer formal “phased retirement” programs, down from 13% in 2006.