4/11/2012 4:01 PM ET|
Will you need a job when you're 75?
Disappearing pensions, an uncertain economy and shrinking home values are keeping many seniors in the workforce -- or bringing them back.
After Ailika Thomas woke up from a snooze, her husband brought her coffee in bed. It was 7 p.m., and the 73-year-old was facing a long, moonlit drive from her rural Indiana home to Chicago; Dean wanted to make the journey as easy as possible for his wife. As she dressed, he warmed the car (a red Buick named Carmen) and stocked it with snacks -- containers of sugar peas, blueberries and her favorite, raw turnips. When Ailika emerged from the back door in a pink-and-white pants combo accompanied by her two Yorkshire terriers, Dean gave her a warm goodbye kiss and made her promise to call at journey's end.
It was a touching scene, but a familiar routine: Thomas' destination was her job. Five nights a week, she drives 90 minutes each way to work the midnight shift as a research supervisor for a big company downtown.
Thomas can't afford to retire. She's not complaining. The job keeps her connected, the benefits are generous, and there's still time to volunteer at downtown theaters and enjoy camping trips with Dean. But the commute! Sometimes, even the latest Dean Koontz thriller on tape can't keep her awake. She mists her face with a water fan, gulps 5-Hour Energy shots (bought by the case at Costco) and yells in the car. When the urge to nod off proves irresistible, she pulls off the interstate and naps in a supermarket parking lot.
Some might suggest that after 56 years in the labor force (she got her first full-time job in 1956, working for Encyclopaedia Britannica) and nearly two decades at the firm, it's time for Thomas to take it easy. But employers in nearby Michigan City don't pay nearly as well, and good luck finding a new gig when you're 73. Ask how long she'll continue, and Thomas says it's not her call: "I don't know how long God's going to let me live."
Commutes like Thomas' might be rare, but working well into one's eighth decade is a scenario that has become -- seemingly overnight -- relatively commonplace. For millions of workers, retirement has been delayed for years; others say they may never retire. Thanks to the nation's massive asset meltdown -- sagging retirement accounts, plunging property values -- an enormous swath of the population has had to redefine life paths. Older folks who assumed they'd be retired by now are struggling with the need to work long after the passion (not to mention the brain and the body) has started to fade.
The result of all this turmoil is a little-noticed but profound shift in the workforce. Some academics say we may well be reverting to historical norms, returning to pre-New Deal conditions in which most Americans had to work until they, well, dropped. The number of working people over age 65 reached an all-time low in 2001, when just 13% held jobs. Now that rate is rebounding, and fast; last summer, it hit 18%, a level not seen since President John F. Kennedy faced the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Of course, plenty of folks still have enough money to retire comfortably. But many boomers, facing a bipolar stock market and a pathetic return on their savings, feel deeply insecure; in one recent Associated Press survey, one in four predicted they'd never be able to retire. And between those two extremes, millions of workers in their 50s and 60s have quietly given up on the dream of an early retirement or the launch of an "encore" career. Instead, they're resigned to meeting the new demands of a work world they thought they'd bid farewell to. Facebook and LinkedIn? They were supposed to be playthings for the junior executive. Brain exercises? They were pitched as preventive medicine for senility, not a job requirement. Cosmetic surgery? Laughable -- until your career depends on it.
Labor experts say this first wave of delayed retirees will face the biggest challenges. They weren't prepared for the sharp reversal in expectations, or the difficulties of working while elderly -- nor were their employers. But for better or worse, this group is blazing a trail that subsequent generations of workers may wind up walking.
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take a broad brush and just paint everyone into a corner to make yourself feel good. I work with a lot of what you call 1%ers. my career in industrial development of over 22 years would not give you any evidence of your claims. virtually 100% of the 1% I've worked with, from Fortune 100 corps. to self made men and women have made their fortunes by building better ideas and products in this country. The media has brainwashed you into thinking that all rich people are greedy, cruel, jerks that only care about their money. Sorry that is not the real 1%ers, it's the myth created by MSNBC, CBS, NPR, ABC, etc. et al. Fortunately for you, there are hundreds of thousands of creative men and women creating wealth in the USA, that pay a lot of taxes, that support the welfare system you live off of. As for me personally, I started my career with nothing but a public education, and thought I have not reached the 1% mark, and I have a long way to go!!! I have reached the 3% mark and I've never stolen or cheated a single person. Ye of little faith, blame a system, when the fault lies in yourself.
If the elders are staying in and returning to the work place and staying until they are 75 it will put a damper on the next generation that wont have a job or openings for jobs because no one ever retires they work until the day they die. Then next generations starves.
Not a promising outlook. We more jobs and new industries or we are in trouble.
Unbelievable, no wonder our youth can't find jobs. These geezers won't quit working.
If people would just be more financially responsible and pay off their debt and quit living beyond means they could retire at a reasonable age like me. 45
I just read the comment a couple of pages back from Sherry Mulligan ( the common--tater).
Talks about how her 76 year old husband still has to work to pay the bills ( he does not want to work but has to work)... she's diabled with $995 month ss... he collects $1000 mon plus his work salary.... they live in a mobile home in south florida....and have a car payment of 300 per month...ARE YOU SERIOUS YOU ARE 76 YEARS OLD AND HAVE A CAR PAYMENT!!! WHAT THE HELL!!!
Their situation sounds to me like it was because of poor ( very poor) financial planning for the last 76 years. How can anyone work for 50+ years and not be able to afford a car.
Even at $2000 month of ss benefits they should be able to live fine with out the husband working 12 hr shifts. Even with her illness they have medicare and a suppliment would not cost that much to help with RX.
...$650.00 lot rent for a mobile home lot... My advise... run,walk, wheelchair yourself , whatever into an affordable home .. (many many many nice safe retirment parks only charge 250-300 month lot rent)... Have husband work for xx amount of months and put his entire paycheck towards paying off the car then quit. live off of 2k a month.
What's even more shocking is that 69 people gave her story a thumbs up... Does any one know how to live within there means anymore??
9-5 at 75, means one of two things, #1 you don't have a life! #2 you enjoy keeping someone unemployed!
people it's that simple, the younger gen can't get ahead because of people like this, hey if they want to sell lemonade on the street , that's one thing, but to hold down corporate america?
give me a break, i plan on retiring at a decent age (way before 75) so other people can have the same opportunities i had. why these old farth can't grasp that, bewilders me.
I understand they lived through this and that, but get over-it and step aside and make room for the other gut, yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah yah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wealth today must be gained in an instant. But the real problem is the speed with which the wealth entitlement attitudes expect their wealth to grow. Every day as opposed to every year. Or, at best, year by year as in the historic past. This is an insanity among those who believe there is absolutely NO ceiling on how much their wealth can grow. See the stupidity in that yet?
Money is an all too liquid and insecure asset. Just watch an addicted gambler if you need proof. That's where today's 1% are. they got their wealth by shaking the bedrock of the US economy. And they don't care. That's what's so disgusting about the origins of their wealth.
Very little of the "old" money remains in the hands of the present generation. So, today's wealth emanated from the 99% exclusively. Today's wealth doesn't build anything. It tears everything down in the name of constantly growing wealth. That's an insanity they will never admit. How many small businesses in the US have to be destroyed by vulture venture capitalists just when these small businesses show signs of expanding into a new industry?
So the big excuse the 1% use is "free enterprise". Okay. Read the Constitution and try to find a single citation where business and government are married to each other under the constitutional right of free enterprise. Don't bother. A government belongs to the people of the country. Free enterprise is a mechanism of Big Business. When government cannot survive without interference from Big Business, it's no longer a government of the people, for the people, by the people, is it?
The statistics on the number of Americans working past retirement age can easily be found on the AARP website. Today's Baby Boomers don't retire at age 62 or 65 for one reason. The eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare has changed. Now, you enroll in Medicare at age 65 instead of age 62. That's 3, count 'em ...3 ...additional years to work and pay into Medicare.
Demographics also plays a big role in which Baby Boomers are retiring. Those used to working in heavily populated, business areas of the country will continue to work into their 70's. Those who are living in laid back, less progressive areas of the country will retire sooner.
So, if you're a New Yorker used to hopping a subway into Manhattan from any of the 5 boroughs, you'll probably put off retirement. But, if you live in Mayberry USA, where life moves along at a snail's pace, you'll retire at age 65. No surprise there.
Middle aged Daycare Generation Twerps (DGTs) thought they could just start a job at the top and earn a fat salary. That's what's wrong with the 30, 40 and 50-somethings whose parents paid for their college educations, allowed them to live at home until age 30 and then, suddenly these Boo hoos marry and tah dah....Responsibility begins to eat away at their innards because not only do they actually have to work for a living and it's no longer an option as when they lived at home too long but now, they also have to pay their dues and work their way to the top. An all too sobering reality these DGTs despise more than their own pathetic whiney existence.
It's okay that their parents are still having to work and take care of their parents. It's not okay for the DGTs to live within their means. Oh no. They have to own 5 bedroom homes, an outdoor fully-loaded kitchen, the prerequisite Soccer Mommy mobile, Gas Guzzler Silverado and all the rest of what they claim are "necessities" their parents somehow managed to live without.
So now all the mean angry DGTs go around snarking away at the elderly who cost too much to exist, single Moms who are working their butts off on one income all while DGTs can't make it on two. Who's really the bigger idiots then?
Either the 1% are lousy at math or they think the 99% can't add. It's a lie that 1% pays 38% of their incomes in taxes. Not even Buffet would swear to that lie. So why do the 1% continue to use that BS as a way of not paying their fair share? Because they hide behind a wall of tax write-offs, exemptions, business and income exemptions, sales and use tax exemptions, corporate exemptions that the 99% are paying for when the federal kitty starts squealing from hunger like a starved hog.
38% of a billionaire's income is what? Peanuts to them. Otherwise, how would they afford those private jets? Their fleets of gas guzzlers and the rest of the lavishments of the wealth entitlement attitudes. They don't and never have paid 38% of their income. All anyone has to do to prove that is figure out that $4 billion in Big Oil subsidies isn't paid entirely by the 1%, is it?
The worst line of BS that the wealthy use to continue unabated wealth growth that is in insanity speed mode right now is that 50% of the population pays NO taxes. Says whom? If you have a job? If your paycheck is deducted every pay period for Social Security, Medicare and a host of other state and federal taxes? Then, more than half of that 50% own homes and pay property taxes, utility taxes on and on and on until the 50% are paying, exactly as Buffet stated, more than their fair share.
Republicans can't put any legislation through that doesn't hand back a windfall to that 1% who in fact, sans all of the above referenced tax cuts plus the 3 since 2004 the GAO claims made them 11% richer with each tax cut, pay a national average of 15%. No where near that lie they pay 38%. Not when they pay a CPA millions just to get those taxes reduced to that 15% or less through any number of loopholes.
When the 1% don't pay their fair share, the 99% pay double. Stop with the lies already. No one believes it anymore.
I’m not part of the 1%, I’m not a corporate official or a trust fund baby I am a simple working man part of the 47% that work and pay taxes to support the 52% that are the slackers. Last year at this time I was unemployed for the second time in two years but I did not quit I forged ahead and found a job. Not the perfect job but at least it’s a job. I don’t understand why or how a portion of the 52% can hate the corporations. After all, when times were good they gave you jobs if you wanted one. This allowed you to have all that you have, as much or as little as it is depending upon your personal determination. The corporations are not at fault for your dilemma many of them are in the same boat trying desperately to stay afloat. And you only want them to pay more taxes so you can live better doing nothing. If you do nothing you should expect nothing in return. If you are able to work you should. Don’t whine about not being able to find a job, there are jobs out there maybe not the one you want but there are jobs available. Bottom line it’s your fault, so get off you’re a$$ pull up your pants tuck in your shirt and go get that job.
You can thank corporate greed for this. They took away our pensions and medical coverage to pad the executives' pockets. I would like to retire and make room for the younger people but it is no longer possible. A few at the top can retire, but not the people who actually did the work and generated the profits. Greed is a terrible disease.
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