Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baby Boomers Postpone Retirement

Group runningKathleen Casey-Kirshling applied for social security retirement benefits online on October 15, 2007. This signal event marked the beginning of baby boomer retirement, Casey-Kirshling having the distinction of being the first baby boomer eligible for retirement. She was born on the first second of January 1,1946. Many baby boomers followed suit in anticipation of happy retirement. The US government estimates a total of 8 million retirees over the next 20 years or an average of 10,000/ day, the so called "silver tsunami."

Little did these retirees know that a year later, the economy would collapse, their 401K and other nest egg investments would be demolished, and plans for travel in retirement would have to be scaled down if not postponed. Indeed, many baby boomers, men and women born between 1946 and 1964, who have applied for retirement benefits are either staying in or returning to the work force. There are varied reasons for this.
  • On a positive note, many older adults are healthier and more energetic. While they enjoy happy retirement, they also feel free to pursue other interests, go back to school, this time for fun, or pursue other careers.
  • There are positions in industry and other employment that cannot be filled by younger workers who are either lacking in training or have not quite matured with experience. Some skilled craftsmanship such as chimney sweep, shoe repair, musical instrument making and repair do not attract enough young people that the skills are in danger of extinction. For these, older workers may have to keep filling in.
  • There is of course, the loss of retirement nest egg which has forced many potential retirees continue working it can be built back up. Some with plans to move into retirement communities must opt to remain in their present homes. Some lost their homes in the mortgage crisis.
Employment for baby boomers can take on different forms. Some opt to keep working full-time for a few more years. Others choose to work part-time and leave room for recreation. Part-time can take on different forms as well. Some might choose to work a couple of full days a week or half days several days a week and still have time for recreation like golf, tennis, gardening or charitable work and, of course, the spoiling of grandchildren. Some work a few weeks or months out of the year leaving options for travel in retirement.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that more older adults are staying in the work force and that can only be a good thing for the country.

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