August Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

A Pandemic and a Promise

One of the lesser-mentioned but not surprising outcomes of the COVID pandemic is the notable increase of early retirements.  According to a recent report in the New York Times, retirements among Americans age 65 to 74 increased by nearly two percent since the beginning of the pandemic after experiencing a steady decline throughout the last 20 years.

Further, they reported that “the retirement rate rose during the pandemic for those 65 to 74, regardless of education level. But for those 55 to 64, the rate rose only for those without a college degree. In contrast, the retirement rate fell for 55 to 64-year-olds with a college degree.”

While their survey did not explore why people retired, this finding leads me to believe that older blue-collar workers were more likely to consider retirement because they felt more exposed in their workplaces compared to white-collar workers who could work safely from home.

However, it is going to take time for us to fully understand how Steelworkers were impacted by the pandemic, and it is possible this trend will continue as workers and employers struggle to adjust to new workplace rules and a delicate economic recovery.

Regardless, the last 15 months have served to me as a reminder of the importance of our work to ensure the promise of a secure retirement for all workers.  Our work to defend Medicare and Social Security is unending, and in the early months of 2021, we celebrated a massive victory when President Biden’s American Rescue Plan included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act.

This concluded our decade-long fight to resolve the multiemployer pension crisis, and has had an immediate impact on more than 1.5 million workers, including 120,000 USW retirees.

We should never lose sight of the fact that our ability to retire often depends upon the decisions made by our lawmakers.  So, THANK YOU for being a part of our work to ensure everyone’s right to a secure retirement. 


Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222