A recent Gallup poll found that 66% of Americans ranked not having enough money for retirement as their top financial concern. This was an increase from 53% a decade ago and raised a red flag for U.S. policymakers concerned about distress and downward mobility in the middle class.
A recent story by Reuters found that Baby Boomers are the first members of the generation since the 1930s who will have a lower standard of living than their parents, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School of Social Research in New York.
“According to our projections, it looks like most middle-class workers, not just low-income workers but most middle-class workers, will be living at or near the poverty level in their old age,” Ghilarducci said in an interview. This is the first time since the Great Depression we are looking at poverty rates increasing among the elderly.”
More Retirees Headed for Poverty and Working Longer
Many older Americans are expected to fall below the official poverty line in the near future, said Jack VanDerhei, research director of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
The last of America’s 79 million baby boomers, who get their name from a surge in the U.S. birthrate in the years after World War Two, turns 65 by 2030.
According to Labor Department statistics, 31% of Americans aged 65-69 were still in the workforce in 2010, compared to 21% in 1990. Of those aged 70-74, 18% were still working in 2010, up from 11% in 1990. Labor Department (BLS) statistics also show that the workforce of people 65 and older nearly doubled in the last 20 years, rising to 6.7 million in 2010. The biggest expense of retirees was health care costs, according to researchers.
What This Says About Retirement
While Washington policymakers are concerned about the economy and job creation, few officials address the role and function of retirement in an advanced society. While retirement represents the goal of years of employment, the new reality is that many workers will be unable to retire.
This will re-shape society, put employment into a new perspective, and force people to re-evaluate their investment choices. After all, the implied promise of retirement investing is financial security. Without it, investors should consider new options, from new innovative providers.
Source: “Retirement Crisis Closes in on Baby Boomers,” by Tom Brown, Nov. 7, 21011, Reuters.