September 24, 2013
“I’m not going to sit on my laurels and say I was an executive making six figures and traveling the world,” 77-year-old Tom Palome says, “I tell people I demonstrate food and I do short-order cooking. I don’t mind saying it. What’s important is that I can work today.”
As Bloomberg reports, the former vice president of marketing for Oral-B juggles two part-time jobs: one as a $10-an-hour food demonstrator at Sam’s Club, the other flipping burgers and serving drinks at a golf club grill for slightly more than minimum wage; a sad but all too real reflection of the new normal ‘job’ gains that our economists and politicians love to crow about. Why is he still working? Like most Americans, he didn’t save enough for retirement (despite working hard his entire career). About 7.2 million Americans over 65 were employed last year, a 67% increase from a decade ago as 59% of households headed by people over 65 have no retirement assets.
“I earn in a week what I used to earn in an hour,” he said
“I know seniors like me who hardly ever leave their homes because they don’t have money to do anything,” Palome said. “They could work, but won’t take a lesser job.”
like most Americans he didn’t save enough for retirement. Even many affluent baby boomers who are approaching the end of their careers haven’t come close to saving the 10 to 20 times their annual working income that investment experts say they’ll need to maintain their standard of living in old age.
For middle class households, with incomes ranging from the mid five to low six figures, it’s especially grim. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, what little Palome had saved — $90,000 — took a beating and he suddenly found himself in need of cash to maintain his lifestyle. With years if not decades of life ahead of him, Palome took the jobs he could find.
Low-income Americans have long had to scrape by in old age, relying primarily on Social Security. The middle class, with its more educated and resourceful retirees, is supposed to be better prepared, with some even having the luxury to forge fulfilling second acts as they redefine retirement on their own terms. Or so popular culture tells us.
The reality is often quite another story.
About 7.2 million Americans who were 65 and older were employed last year, a 67 percent increase from a decade ago, according to government data. Yet 59 percent of households headed by people 65 and older currently have no retirement account assets, according to Federal Reserve data analyzed by the National Institute on Retirement Security.
“People who built successful careers, put their kids through college and saved what they could, are still facing downward mobility,”
It’s about to get worse. Right behind the current legions of elderly workers is the looming baby boomer generation, who began turning 65 in 2011 and are reaching that age at a rate of about 8,000 a day. They’re the first generation expected to fund their own retirements, even as they live longer lives.
This article was posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 5:38 am