The Covid-19 pandemic upended labor markets and prompted a sharp and sustained increase in the share of U.S. adults who are retired. This paper uses the longitudinal structure of the Current Population Survey to explore patterns in employment and retirement transitions among older workers during the pandemic. Employment declines among older workers were greatest for low-earning, non-white, and non-college-educated workers. By contrast, increased transitions to retirement occurred more evenly across demographic groups and concentrated in both the lowest- and highest-earning quartiles. Job characteristics that best predicted increased pandemic retirement transitions were employment in high-contact occupations and part-time work schedules. I estimate that part-time workers made up roughly 70% of the increase in net year-to-year employment-to-retirement transitions during the first year of the pandemic. This finding has implications for recent Social Security claiming behavior and for the persistence of the pandemic retirement boom.


Davis, Owen F. (2021). “Employment and retirement among older workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Working paper.