When the current crop of “Baby Boomers” was growing up, adults who were reasonably successful in their careers sometimes retired before they became to old or infirm to enjoy what was left of their lives. Retirement has now become, for many, an obsolete dream.
This phenomenon grew exponentially through the 1970s, 80’s and 90’s to the degree that well employed people were often able to cease working by around age 60. Times have changed. The economic situation of the world has shifted downwards and people are now continuing to work longer and longer in order to be able to keep up with their financial obligations and basic survival needs. Fewer people can afford to retire from their full time employment and still be able to make ends meet.
This changes the profile of the entire work force in ways that are apt to affect both the here-and-now and the foreseeable future of opportunities, family choices and career decisions and options. The workforce is aging as greater numbers of older people are hanging on to the relative security of the paychecks they are earning.
When there is less turn over at earlier ages complicated by the already shrinking job market brought about by the current recession/depression things become increasingly difficult for young people.
Daily newspapers and national magazines are filled with stories about young people who did all the right things. They did well in High School then went to college. Once graduated, however, the ‘˜better jobs’ they had always been assured awaited those with higher educations had substantially evaporated.
It is not that the train to prosperity has left the station. More correctly, to get to that destination requires some rethinking about which train to get on given the prevailing social and economic circumstances in today’s world.
Older people who were once thought to be of ‘˜retirement age’ are still working. Some, who did retire, have found themselves having to return to work. Sometimes the jobs available to return to in later life are far more basic than the work people did when they were younger. I spoke with an older man in South Florida who was rounding up empty shopping carts in a super market parking lot.
This was a part-time post-retirement job for this man who had spent 35 years as a High School teacher. He didn’t think he would have to work again when he retired, but he had no way of anticipating how much of a gap would develop between his retirement income and the costs of sustaining his own life.
For people who are fortunate enough to have jobs they like and continue to derive gratification from and who are in reasonable good health, continuing to work past the age we thought we would retire might not be such terrible news. For others, the consequences can be catastrophic.
A 25-year-old friend suggested to me, recently, that everyone should be compelled to retire at age 60 so as to make space in the job market for the next generation of workers. In a perfect world, I just might agree. The world, however, is far from perfect,
To retire or not to retire is a complex and uncomfortable decision for people to have to make. It is one best made with careful and thorough forethought and, if possible, with the assistance of a retirement planning professional who can help you anticipate the consequences of the available choices.