Why We Keep Working

A greater purpose: Bob Crotinger, of the Village of Charlotte, wanted more out of life, so he found a job he loves — working two days a week doing custom club work for Golf Management Solutions. So why does he do it? “It keeps my mind and body in the shape I want it to be in,” he said.

More and more mature Americans are delaying their transition into full-on retirement, opting to gain financial, social and physical benefits by continuing to work.

But the concept of having a retirement lifestyle blended with the option to keep working was hip in The Villages even before the trend caught on nationally.

The data suggests that more retirees throughout the country are either returning to or remaining in the workforce in their retirement years, and that those numbers will continue to increase over the next 20 years or so with the aging of the baby boomers.

The trend will become even more noticeable in The Villages over the next few weeks and months, as retailers, restaurateurs and service providers ramp up hiring to serve not only returning seasonal residents, but also their year-round neighbors.

In many instances, they will be hiring Villages residents, bringing the community even closer through symbiotic relationships among neighbors who style one another’s hair at the barbershop or serve each other at retail establishments.

This trend comes with potentially tremendous socioeconomic benefits as well, said Sean Snaith, Ph.D., an economics professor at the University of Central Florida.

“If you look at retirement-age folks, that workforce participation rate has been rising,” Snaith said. “Every individual’s decision how, and if, they’re going to participate in the labor market is specific to whatever factor, whether financially or socially. It could be some of both. I also think the baby boom generation isn’t looking at retirement the way their parents did; sitting on the porch in a rocking chair and watching life go by. Baby boomers are more active in a lot of areas, and continuing to work is a manifestation of that.”

Sense of Balance

Bob Crotinger, of the Village of Charlotte, gains pride from the craftsmanship he puts into golf club regripping at Sarasota Practice Center.

Nearly four years ago, Crotinger and his wife, Elaine, moved from Nashville, where he investigated insurance fraud and arson.

For a while, he enjoyed his favorite pastimes; he’s an avid golfer and fisherman.

But he wanted more out of life.

So, he found a job he loves — working two days a week doing custom club work for Golf Management Solutions.

“That’s really easy,” he said about his reasoning for working through retirement. “I do it because I have to have a purpose in life.”

What Crotinger truly enjoys is the sense of balance he gets from being active.

“I have a lot of people who ask me that question; Why do you do this?” he replied. “It keeps my mind and body in the shape I want it to be in.”

Health Benefits

Janet Wietz, of the Village La Zamora, stays fit while helping others as a group blast instructor at MVP Athletic Club at Spanish Springs.

Around 17 years ago, Wietz and her husband, John, moved to The Villages after retiring early in life as Mountain Bell telephone employees in Colorado.

In the meantime, she discovered a passion for staying physically and mentally fit through the intensive instruction she now provides part-time to her neighbors at MVP.

At age 61, Wietz plans to work far into retirement and be healthy while doing it.

“My parents died at age 72 and 75,” she said. “I don’t want to do that.”

She’s confident the path she took to The Villages will enhance her longevity.

“I’m here for life,” she said. “It’s a love need, actually. The money is always good, but I’m not forced to be here. Money is an enhancement, but being healthy is worth its weight in gold.”

That explains her passion for encouraging her members to stretch just a little farther during her exercise classes.

Wietz truly believes they’ll live longer, be healthier and have greater mental acuity from participating.

And that’s her goal, too.

“It’s already enhanced my life and my current life expectancy,” Wietz said with confidence.

Workforce Growth

Jack and Judy Maselli, of the Village of Hadley, are living their dreams as barbers at Cal’s Barbershop in Colony Plaza.

But they aren’t alone — about 20 percent of the 72 employees at the four Cal’s barber and beauty salons Vickie Langford owns in The Villages are retirees who re-enter the workforce, she said.

“It wasn’t for the finances, either,” Langford said about their motivation. “What I see is their need for interaction. They want to stay busy.”

The positive nature of these retirees in how they interact with customers also convinces her that working later into life helps people live longer, particularly in The Villages.

“I definitely think so, because the lifestyle here is so different,” she said. “They come here, maybe they’re in their 70s, and they’re saying, ‘I’m not done, yet.’”

The trend of retirees re-entering the workforce provides Langford with a steady stream of workers.

She’s getting ready now to augment her workforce because of the seasonal residents already returning to the community.

“Right now, we’re going to add two or three stylists,” Langford said. “And we never have to lay any of them off during the off season, because we just keep growing, with more people deciding to live here year-round.”

Pride in Themselves

Expect soon to see many new and familiar mature faces at businesses in The Villages.

The trend toward retirees re-entering the workforce only grows larger with time, especially in the community’s hospitality industry, said Mackie McCabe, The Villages director of hospitality.

At Katie Belle’s Dining & Entertainment Club, for instance, management now is preparing to add about 10 to 15 percent more staff, he said.

“Our volumes vary in The Villages, starting in October,” McCabe said. “Everything is based on volume. So, as volume goes up, we need more people. So, we’ll start looking for good people around the middle of September.”

The retirees who work hospitality in The Villages rarely do it for the money, he added.

“They love the work,” he said. “Very little of it is about the money. Typically, they’re a part-time resident employee who works 20 hours a week. So, that’s their social time. It also gives them a little pocket jingle. But it’s more about being out in the public and interacting with other people.”

McCabe said it can be a little tricky managing a workforce with older employees who want only part-time work.

But there’s a big reason why they appeal to restaurateurs like him and others in the community.

“That’s OK, because they’re well worth it,” he said. “They come from a generation that is very responsible. They own their job. They take a lot of pride in themselves and their appearances. And really coach up the younger kids.”

Participation Uptick

The data suggests this workforce trend shows no sign of abating.

Over the next eight years, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 21.7 percent civilian labor participation rate among Americans age 65 and older. That’s a 3.1 percent increase from 2014, a 7.3 percent increase from 2004 and a 9.3 percent increase from 1994.

That growth trend extends throughout all of the 65-and-older subcategories; 29.9 percent participation for people 65 to 74, a participation rate of 36.2 percent among workers age 65-69 and even a 22.8 percent participation rate among workers 70 to 74, according to the federal data.

Several factors figure into this national trend, Snaith said.

“For one, life expectancy has been going up; for women, in particular,” he said. “So there’s a lot of years left at the traditional retirement. Maybe it’s for financial reasons, maybe social, probably some of both.”

Another is the federal mandate that some employers must pay health care costs for full-time workers versus those employees working 30 hours or less, he said.

“Then there’s the historic low rates of interest,” Snaith added. “Prior to the recession, a lot of retirees depended on interest income. I’ve talked with a lot of people over the years who had certificates of deposit that provided some reasonable income flow that dwindled into nothing. That may be pushing some back into the market as well.”

David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9066, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.