According to the New York Times on Feb. 2, there’s some bad news for boomers. The current economy is hitting us harder than almost every other age group.
Why? Well, our graduate kids can’t find work and have school loans to pay off. That usually means they move back in with mom and dad. And it’s not only the younger of the kids either. Our 30 and 40-year-olds can’t afford to buy homes, so take a guess where a lot of those kids are.
Most generations these days have a gripe with the economy, but the Labor Department’s statistics give strong evidence for Americans in their 50s and early 60s being hardest hit. They’re talking about those of us who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security to help out with our ravaged earning power.
Retirement savings have fallen off or are non-existent. Home values have dropped. A lot of this generation is sandwich filling between kids and parents who both need help, hence the nickname "Generation Squeeze.”
This is not only affecting the bottom line of boomers, it’s affecting their health, as well. New research suggests boomers in this category may die sooner because at a time when they were supposed to be winding down, they have to wind up. If affects health, income security and mental status.
“A recent study by economists at Wellesley College found that people who lost their jobs in the few years before becoming eligible for Social Security lost up to three years from their life expectancy, largely because they no longer had access to affordable health care.”
So what's a boomer to do? Go back to work, right? Well, assuming you can, what do you think your odds are at finding a suitable job that pays your bills? Those odds are not very good right now. It’s been proven that once an older worker loses his or her job, it’s much harder finding another one. Average unemployment for boomers last year was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for younger people.
It’s not that boomers are unskilled or lazy either. It has more to do with the fact that older people have probably been laid off from downsized companies and the high number of companies that continue to downsize. Add to that the fact that most boomers are homeowners, not renters. It’s not as easy to pick up and move to a new job market.
And then there’s good old-fashioned age discrimination. Employers have a ready and willing pool of younger people that can work for less money than boomers and provide a few decades of work instead of only a few years. Sadly, in a survey of older workers laid off during the recession, only one in six had found new work and at least half of those had to take pay cuts to work, some as much as half.
So what’s a boomer to do? Not give up, for one. Look into self-employment or at-home businesses. And, no, you don’t get benefits and you do get long hours, but it could be the answer to some who are stuck in “Generation Squeeze.”