America is reaching a tipping point. Adults in the busiest phase of life, juggling kids and careers, number about 40 million, which is roughly equal to those near and in retirement, who typically have time on their hands. But the number of adults pressed for time is projected to grow slowly, reaching 49 million by 2050. By contrast, the number of retirees with plenty of free time will explode to 88 million, as more and more boomers retire.
When you add it all up, retirees will have 2.5 trillion hours of leisure time to fill over the next 20 years. This free time will redefine their habits and priorities—even their identities. And yet almost no one is planning for this sweeping change, according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Age Wave.
The rise of this senior leisure class will not only reshape retirement but the businesses that cater to older Americans—leisure spending is projected to total $4.6 trillion over the next 20 years. Already the travel industry has seen a spike among older Americans seeking active group trips centered on biking, volunteering and learning. Boomers are also embracing Airbnb for extra income and as a less costly way to travel, and they increasingly plan experiences that include extended family.