80 is the New 60 When it Comes to Retirement

From the ASR Blog

American business has become a gray area. As in hair color.

Call it the new American nightmare: Running out of money in retirement is scaring the hell out of record numbers of older workers, forcing them to stay in the workforce.

Now 80 is the new 60 when it comes to retirement. Many older workers who finally clock out have sharply underestimated their financial needs in retirement, raising the specter of personal financial disaster.

“Most clients are about to turn 60 or right after it, preparing for retirement, and their concern [is]: Are they going to have enough money to live through retirement?” said Jeff Speight, a financial planner and manager at Tanglewood Wealth Management. “Their main problem is, they don’t understand what to do.”

By putting off retirement the Baby Boomers are a large reason for the high levels of unemployment for those looking to enter the workforce. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics the rate of joblessness in people 20- to 25-years old is 12.5 percent, twice the rate of people 25 and older.

These Boomers have plenty of company. The American Dream of retirement at 65 is looking more like a pipe dream to many.

Nearly half of older workers are on the job longer than they had planned to be — on average, by three more years than they estimated at age 40, according to a recent survey of Americans 50 and over by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

And the latest studies shed additional disturbing light:

  • UBS Wealth Management Americas discovered that most wealthy investors today do not feel “old” until they turn 80. That’s a gigantic change from their parents’ generation, when “old” was regarded to be about 60. Also, pre-retirees underestimate how much it will take to finance a long and phased-in retirement. Their average expectation is that 58 percent of prior annual income will sustain them. The industry recommends 75 percent to 80 percent.
  • The percentage of older middle-class Americans who said their day-to-day financial concern is “paying the monthly bills” has climbed from 52 percent last year to 59 percent today, according to Wells Fargo. Saving for retirement comes in second. Four in 10 say saving and paying the bills is “not possible.”
  • Older adults are now the fastest-growing share of the US labor force. By 2020, workers 55 and older will comprise a stunning 25 percent of the civilian labor force. In 1985, workers 60 and older, and those 65 and older, made up just 6.5 percent and 2.3 percent of the labor force respectively, according to a Brookings Institution study. That’s projected to jump to 11.2 percent and 4.7 percent by 2015 — and then reach 13 percent and 6.2 percent by 2030.

Louise Gunderson, a managing director at UBS in New York, warns investors nearing retirement to make tough decisions and trade-offs.

“They may have to work longer and/or carefully consider their spending needs as compared to wants,” she said.