A recent Virginia Business magazine story that profiled workers who stay on the job after reaching retirement age included Master Shipbuilder Johnnie R. Rainey.

NNS Welder Rides the ‘Silver Tsunami’

Published May 8, 2024

A Newport News Shipbuilding welder was among those featured in a recent Virginia Business magazine story that explored the growing trend of workers who stay on the job after they turn 65 years old.

Johnnie R. Rainey, 74, has worked at NNS for 42 years and has no plans to retire.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “I still need good benefits. It’s a good company, and I just enjoy coming to work every day.”

Rainey has plenty of company. The story cited a December 2023 study that said nearly 20% of Americans 65 and older remain on the job. That’s a significant increase from 35 years ago, nearly double the percentage.

Reasons for working longer vary. Some stay employed as a hedge against an economic downturn. Others want to keep contributing in some way. Rainey’s NNS job gave him the financial wherewithal to let his sons attend and graduate college.

The graying of the population – what some call the “silver tsunami” – has impacted the workforce at NNS and around the country, as businesses adjust to an older employee base that is closer to retirement, yet has valuable institutional knowledge.

The Virginia Business edition also featured a cover photo of Rainey taken by NNS photographer Ashley Cowan (O29).