Boomers and retirement: Trouble ahead!
Boston College's Center for Retirement Research has surveyed employers, and they predict that half of their Boomer workers won't be financially ready to retire at the traditional age. Not surprisingly, many of the employers also say that a big chunk of those Boomers will want to keep on working.

Working after the age of 65 can make a lot of financial sense. If you can do it, that is. I wrote a fairly upbeat article about delayed retirement a year ago, but the more I reflect on it--and the more reporting I do on this beat--the more skeptical I am that employers will happily welcome older workers as more Boomers hit their 60s. Management gurus and HR consultants often warn of a coming labor shortage, but of course it's their job to scare employers into thinking they'll need help finding good workers. As I wrote last year: "Peter Cappelli, an economist at Wharton, does think more older workers will stay on the job. But, he notes, hiring them won't be the only option for employers. Just behind the busters [the smaller group of workers born after the Baby Boom] is a huge group of new workers: the boomers' own kids. And taking on older folks is just one way for companies to deal with a tight labor market; they might invest more in technology or ship jobs to Bangalore."

Beyond the macroeconomics, there's the human factor. I've talked to lots of laid-off professionals in their 50s and 60s, and they complain that its hard to get younger managers to take them seriously. This is particularly tough on the most accomplished people, such as those who have run departments or even entire companies. There are only so many positions near the top of the pyramid, and once you get knocked off it's hard to climb back on. Meanwhile, you've spent the past 15 or 20 years focusing on management tasks, so your technical skills (which you'll need to find work lower down on the pyramid) might have grown stale. And even if they haven't, age discrimination is common enough that you won't get the credit you deserve for what you can do.

The growing importance of technology at work, and the breathtaking pace of technological change, may only make this worse. I'm just 35 and relatively tech-savvy--hey, kids, I'm blogging!--but I often feel like there's a huge gap between myself and people in their 20s. I struggle to get my head around new Web applications such as social networking, and I'm sort of amazed and often a bit disgusted by the ability of the young'uns to multitask. Not long ago, and to my mild shame, I lost my temper with someone who, on the phone, sounded youngish, and clearly was both reading emails and finishing up a conversation with someone else on a cell phone. (In my day, phones connected to walls and we had to talk to one person at a time... and we liked it!) So how am I going to do fifteen years from now, when all of the kids coming out of college have communication chips implanted in their skulls and nobody gets my Dana Carvey references anymore?

Wait... that last part has already happened.
Posted by Pat Regnier 10:45 AM 49 Comments comment | Add a Comment

You are being mislead. Just because a 20 year old uses an iPod or watches a digital TV does not mean they either understand technology, or more importantly, can use it as a business tool.

In my experience the opposite is true. They can send a email, but have no idea how email works, they can play an iTunes but have no idea what a song being an MP3 file means. They can blog, but have no idea what an internet or what groupware is. In fact, many IT "professionals" have no idea how an electron gets from here to there even though without that we are reduced back to sticks and stones.

In fact, as an IT and Engineering professional for almost 30 years I see no improvement whatsoever in people ability to control and use technology over what I saw in 1983. Until kids , and their parents, actually take learning seriously and value rather than make fun of the kids who make all A's in math and science you have nothing to worry about. An Indian or Chinese national will soon be doing their job anyway.
Posted By Bob, Glendale : 9:18 AM  

You wrote:

I'm just 35 and relatively tech-savvy--hey, kids, I'm blogging!--but I often feel like there's a huge gap between myself and people in their 20s

Correct English would read: " between people in their 20's and me".

Posted By Anonymous : 9:23 AM  

Well, something's going to have to give. The age for collecting full social security is going up, and everyone is telling us we need to work longer because social security wasn't designed to support us for 20-25 years. So even if we decide/want to work longer, we may not be able to do so. This is a no-win situation for those of us closing on being seniors.
Posted By EB, Teterboro, NJ : 9:46 AM  

Amen, brother. I am 57, recently sold a successful professional services business in Detroit and moved to Charleston, SC to enjoy the sunshiine. I have been trying to land a regular job for over eighteen months now and have been turned down for a dog walking company, a doggie day care and even driving medical supplies in a company van!
Posted By Anonymous : 9:52 AM  

I am a boomer who plans to work as long as I am able - hopefully to age 80. For that plan to work, it is necessary to achieve a base level of financial security without work (house paid off, kids educated and some savings). Then it is possible to use work at a modest income to provide the difference between basic financial security and a more active life style. Part of planning for this "semi-retirement" is finding and training for the phase II career. Perhaps some will have a modified slower paced version of their phase I career, others will turn hobbies into jobs. Either way, it can work very well with preparation and planning. My grandfather retired from his phase I career at age 67 and then had two more careers extending his work life into his mid-eighties. That is the model I would like to emulate.
Posted By John Prizer, Maitland, FL : 9:53 AM  

I've always thought that part of managing a technology based enterprise, at least in middle management, was to stay current and relevant. The benefits of this approach are (1) a better understanding of ones operation, (2) the ability to step in to instruct and support subordinates and (3) the flexibility to perform at several levels within a particular industry or discipline. It is especially this last item that should be included in boomer's goals as part of a wealth building plan.
Posted By P. Trager, Fairfield, NJ : 10:10 AM  

You are correct. So many baby boomers I've talked to think they can work as they get older. But, it's unrealistic. They have to work, though, because they were horrible savers and investors.
Posted By John, Minneapolis, MN : 10:27 AM  

Your article was right on target. I am a boomer and was out of work for 7 months often being turned down for younger, and cheaper, employees. No one wants to pay for your experience and management expertise. They feel you have to now be a technologist to perform.
Posted By Greenville, SC : 10:32 AM  

I don't think companies will be that eager to take on older workers, especially with the cost of health insurance skyrocketing. Any actuary will tell you age=risk.

But besides that, there is a layer of Doomers (back end of the boom) even before the Busters you mentioned. Basically there is a decade of workers born in the 60s who have been waiting as much as 20 or 25 years for someone to die so we could move up the corporate food chain. Some of us got tired of waiting and struck out on our own. The rest will look first to help our own peer group, not those who've absorbed and blocked our opportunities for years.

Add to that the fact that most Boomers' management skills consist of sitting on people to make sure they show up and look busy. The Boomer managers I know are terrified of trying to manage a technology-enabled, dispersed work force. They are out of touch, out of date and will not be missed when they are gone.

Better start planning your consultancy now, because for the next band in the pipeline the Old Boy Network can't retire soon enough. We have to catch up to take care of our own retirement in a more challenging finanacial environment. Boomers have had their chance.
Posted By PW, Arizona : 10:52 AM  

Did the study address the fact that most boomers have more than one 401(k) and/or defined benefit pension plan? Also, the amount of money in retirement accounts does not tell the whole story with regard to when one can retire. Health care is a big (bigger?) issue. As for us, we are poised to retire early (ages 54 and 46), mostly because we saved lots early and have a very affordable retiree health care plan.
Posted By Susan, Flower Mound, TX : 10:56 AM  

Age discrimination will be next legal battleground in the workplace...we've already been through racial, gender and sexual discrimination...A surge in age discrimination-related litigation is a matter of when, not if
Posted By Mark Solomon, Roswell, GA : 11:19 AM  

Caught up in the "free to be me" and "doing my own thing" movements in the late 60's and early 70's many of us boomers lost the ability to raise our children appropriately. Our radical, selfish views rejected principles such as respect for authority and valuing others. We gave our children a lot of knowledge, but no wisdom to determine what to do with that knowledge. Consequently, the "ME" generation (our own offspring) views those who nurtured them as outdated and unable to contribute anything worthwhile. They don't see any value the "sweat" we put in over the years to get them to where they are today. It isn't until we see the "monsters" we've created that we begin to realize the mistakes we made and appreciate what we had in our youth. If we, as mature workers, are not fortunate enough to share our skills in the work place today, make the time to instill some wisdom to your grandkids. Maybe we can turn this situation around, one kid at a time, so the "ME" generation won't have to face the same fate as we.
Posted By Janet, Crown Point, IN : 11:23 AM  

I lost my job a couple of years ago, after 23 years on the job, and lost 3/4 of my pension. They called it reorg, but I called it youngersized. I found another job, but still earning 25% less, but loving the job more with a small business. Small really need the experienced workers, because we are bringing a good deal of experience with us. Moved my 401K funds to a self direct fund, but my new company doesn't always match like large corporations. I will have to work until 66, because of the health care cost. Everyone I talk to, say that is a cost mostly overlooked. Plus people don't realize that even with 500K in a plan at 4% withdrawn each year that's only 20K, and with reduced pension or no pension and Social Securty, we have to continue working. The numbers don't add up.
Posted By Van Vanderwood; Boise, ID : 11:34 AM  

The comment about people in their 50s not being respected by younger supervisors is so true. I am way under utilized by my employer despite years of accomplishment in my younger years before going through corporate downsizings.
Posted By David, Cleveland, Ohio : 11:44 AM  

Amen, Minneapolis John. While the Boomers were spending like drunken sailors, I have been hearing all my life that Social Security will be bankrupt about five years before I am eligible. Medicare will be in even worse shape. That means I'm already paying for Boomers' retirement twice: once in reduced opportunities and again in contributions that will be consumed before I am eligible.

Someone explain to me why I should pay for it a third time when companies stopped offering pensions for most of my generation, shifted the burden of health insurance to workers and widened the income and opportunity gap between the top and bottom of the employment ladder faster than any other time in history?
Posted By PW, Arizona : 11:46 AM  

You are on to something here. We keep hearing the coming labor shortage reported. I am 61 and just left my second "job", the first being over 30 years with a major technology company. There is no new news; finding work is challenge. Fortunately I saved well so don't feel a need to work. But being idle is not an option. I've had several leads on jobs, but nothing yet. And its clear age is somewhat a factor at a minimum. I expect we'll all learn together about life after 65 for the boomers, but one day at a time. Its still about skills, reputation and who you know.....
Posted By charleson, sc : 11:49 AM  

All experiences can look horrible, but I am happy I had to live no war. The point is that as things might turn out if the dollar collapses and protectionism takes hold (which looks possible if China keep on his commercial policy) then I might get quite unhappy.
Posted By Spain : 12:01 PM  

The correlation of higher earnings to college degrees is just that, correlation. As more high schoolers attend college, and the proportion of college educated individuals increases, the gap between high-school educated and college educated might become less pronounced. If each course completed were really representing qualitative improvements of individuals, then someone with only one class left to complete for their degree should be nearly matching the lifetime earnings of the person who completed that next class. This is far from reality.
While I am not a fan of government regulations, I think it would be advantageous to know if particular institutions are having trouble improving the economic outcomes of their students - a part of the proposed 'no-college-student-left-behind' proposal.
As to another posting that wondered why colleges try and charge as much as Harvard, Princeton, etc.... It is about the public perception of quality. Many schools are raising their prices faster than inflation to 'catch-up' to the prestigious institutions in an attempt to appear as good as them. Let's face it, people ask themselves, "how can a school only charging $6,000 in tuition be as good as someplace charging $24,000?" In such a market, the race is not to compete with the lowest price, but with creating am impression that permits the highest market price. Low price competitors are eliminated from the market.
Posted By Kirk, Dover, Delaware : 12:04 PM  

I am 50 years old and work with mostly 20 to 35 year olds , great group to work with but let me tell you , I would not hire a guy over 50 years old for anything but a cross walk gaurd, my friends in there fiftys and sixties are allways complaining about anything new, tech especially... 1 out of 8 of my fifty+ group is up to date on tech and the rest should go home at 55 with a gold watch , they died with the berlin wall, as for working till 65 this group is very unhealthy, both in body and old in mind...:))
Posted By glenn walker Claremont Ca : 12:17 PM  

Finally somebody young enough that makes sense!!
I am 56 and trying to keep on working until at least 62 (I hope) but I can't tell you how hard (sometimes quit humiliating) is to work/compete with the young college grads. Not at intelligence level but on doing things and taking orders. Mark the fact that these are college grads; what about if you need to work at Wall Mart and your boss is a 19 years old?? Kind of scary and not by far the dignifying live that somebody working for 30+ years deserves. You could say that h/she should of red your column more often to save more money but so many people just made it check by check while putting their kids in college. That is why SS should not be seen as government "hand out� and more likely a "state" pension that for example Great Britain has it.
This "pension" makes a great deal for so many even if they need to supplement it. And BTW, most of the people made their contributions to the system - it is not that you get it for free.
Nothing against the idea to increase the credits needed it to get SS but anything against not having it!
Posted By Mike, Ypsilanti, MI : 12:33 PM  

I got caught up in a major layoff when I was 61 and trying to manage resources has been a real chore. I sure miss my six-figure income.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:50 PM  

Become a doctor and you will have no fear of retirement, being fired or laid off.
Posted By Randall Reihing Whitehouse, Ohio : 12:56 PM  

You missed 1 connection. The 40-50 million illegal aliens in this country if they become 'legal' and can compete for mainstream jobs will make what we've seen to date look like the 'fun days'. One solution would be to remove the globalists from power that are sponsoring this movement and wrecking your future.
Posted By Glen Buckingham, Boulder, CO : 1:02 PM  

Amazing comments. I know that I'm 23 and I live in Brazil, so why do I care?

It's very educational to watch this drama unfold, it's seems with all certainty that the worse is yet to come.

It's clear that for the Boomers to have any chance of success of finding jobs, they will have to hit the books before hitting the job market.

What's the point of having 30 years experience on steam engines, right?
Posted By Herbert, Brazil/Riode Janeiro : 1:09 PM  

You are right. The wear and tear on bodies may be less but it is the wear and tear on minds that is the heavier burden. Workers age faster, not slower these days. Older workers can remain current but this doesn't mean they will maintain their value; a current 50 year old is worth little more than a current 25 year old and often the 25 year old is worth more. Hire young and they can grow with the company, hire old and they will grow old with the company.

If they are content with minimum wage work, or they parlay their experience into their own business, they may do well, but most will not be happy to just keep busy or to work the hard hours to build their own business. The desperate and the eager will work but the rest will find it unappealing.
Posted By Dave, Tustin, CA : 1:21 PM  

Well, talking to two people at once, while doable is rude. Aside from that, people need to take care of their looks. People also have to STOP thinking that being over 50 is old. I am 51 and my 50s friends sound like they are headed to the grave. Both my husband and I are enjoying the best careers ever by keeping up with technology and our looks. If you like old and tired, why should anyone thing you will work differently. If you don't learn new skills forget it. No more sticks in the mud! I hired my previous boss to work with me and he is in his 60s and the best man for the job. So wake up you old farts and smell the coffee. It is NOT the age, but the attitude.
Posted By Lisa Scheuplein : 1:47 PM  

Glenn from Claremont is right. It sickens me how many middle managers learn buzzwords like "cache" and "sticky" and dazzle their managers with it. Power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.

Something else to think about: who has benefited from the business climate changes of the last two decades?

I can't tell you how many times I watched CEOs get million-dollar bonuses for laying off, cutting benefits to or offshoring lower-ranking (often younger) workers. The justification is always maximizing returns for investors.

Now, what percentage of those investors do you suppose are under 55? Under 45? While the costs of education, health care, housing, child care and commuting have climbed, the disposable income left for workers to invest has shrunk.

I've lived pay-as-you go and given up luxuries and social opportunities to do it. I worked full time through college to pay for it and get out without loans. Paid cash for ugly but reliable used cars. Eat sack lunches. Never had an extravagant (beyond car travel) vacation. Recently moved from California to a lower-cost state to finally have a home of my own 20 years later. I learn new skills and develop new income possibilities whenever the opportunity appears. I buy secondhand and save and invest all I can. It's still a crapshoot whether I will ever be able to retire.

If spendthrift Boomers are just thinking about this now, whose fault is that? The smart ones saved. The rest bought Jags and Humvees.

How about starting to live (and reproduce) within our means as a way to have a better life? How about letting go of shallow status symbols as measures of quality of life?

The future of retirement for all of us will come down to ants and grasshoppers. Today's ants will not be eager to pay for or hire yesterday's grasshoppers.
Posted By PW, Arizona : 2:00 PM  

The above posts are all good reasons to financially prepare and plan your activities in your retirement. I am a strong believer that working past age 58 or 60 should be a choice. Unfortunately most of my friends and business colleagues are more focused on the immediate gratification of today than planning for their future and their family's future. I am sure that most people have heard that a good percentage of people put more time and effort into planning a two week vacation than their retirement (or second, third, fourth careers). There is also an unknown factor of one's health. While we may need to work past age 60 to pay the bills or bolster the retirement accounts - a better question - are we physically able to work in our 60's and 70's?
Posted By Tony, Houston, Texas : 2:01 PM  

My wife and I are mid level civil servants in our 50's; we were able to participate in unmatched deferred comp and each have small pensions and subsidized healthcare. My sister and husband each have prestigious business degrees and have changed employers and gone into business for themselves and then back to a low compensation position. They have little in retirement and a home with 15 to 20 years mortgage left on it. In addition, it is large and expensive on utilities and taxes. They kept trading up to their third ever bigger white elephant. I don't know, they are only a few years behind us and it is like they are oblivious to the need of a retirement. I am in my first home which will be paid for when I retire. I don't mean to toot my own horn but I view retirement as a weekend; I have been working all week and I look forward to a lifetime of Saturdays. The problem with many boomers is like my sibling, they must continue to work and they will be lucky if their employer continues to need them or they don't have a health care problem.
Posted By Gus Los Angeles, Ca : 2:18 PM  

As a career consultant for the government before retirement I can attest to the fact that discrimination exist as you grow older. Also govenment-companies are on to cost of older workers as the auto companies have proven. As labor expansion takes place worldwide and goods and services go global one must wonder were the jobs will be and at what cost to our/US economy. The Baby Boomer are only the first to go. As an expat living in a third world country one can only walk outside and find young people with current salable skills cheaper than in the US. Beware America You all Are Obsolete and earn to Much Money and live in a dream world that is being outsourced from under you.
Posted By mike guadalajara mexico : 2:20 PM  

The role of financial columnists like Pat R. seems to be to scare the bloody crap out of everyone - we all will be poor, alone, unloved....unless we buy this or that financial product/service advertised in Money magazine. What did the human race do for 50,000 years without financial planners and columnists?
Posted By Bob Gefvert Sonoma CA : 2:33 PM  

I've been employed within the high tech industry for some 30+ years and believe I'm somewhat savy in the industry. But, I'm slow on the uptick..and didn't realize that the reason I wasn't being hired was...age..not inability or salary requirements...but, then it finally sank in!!
My observation is that everyone will have ample opportunity to find themselves in the same situations that many of us(seniors) have...with the downsizing of verizon, quest, at&t, global crossing, jdsu, worldcom etc. Many of us thought that dedication, good work ethic, long hours, being a team player, longevity with the company would keep you in good stead...but many of us found out differently.

Today I tell my kids to learn everything you can, parlay that knowledge into a better paying position and don't worry about what your resume looks like. If you have something to sell and people want that knowledge and experience them let them pay for it. You are responsible for your career and your future earning ability NOT the COMPANY that your are employed by.
Posted By Norman, Columbus, Ohio : 2:39 PM  

Pat, You've really opened a can of stuff here. My wife and I are mid-50 accountants. We've been seeing this coming for over 10 years. We will start our own business during 2007, turn our hobbies into additional income, turn our 40 acres into a self-sustaining habitat, and try to set an example of love, industriousness, morality, and christian living to our grandchildren.
Posted By RMH, Austin County, Texas : 2:42 PM  

I find your statement "I've talked to lots of laid-off professionals in their 50s and 60s, and they complain that its hard to get younger managers to take them seriously" interesting. I'm 33 and have dealt with the opposite my entire career.
Posted By Anonymous : 2:53 PM  

Finally the truth!
Posted By Anonymous : 4:04 PM  

As a Boomer who has been self employed for the last 30 years as a artist/builder I lose patience with laid off manager types who bemoan their lack of appreciation in the younger marketplace.
In my experience when any project(job)is completed you are unemployed until you begin another. During this "down time" take stock of the market and make adjustments for the next venture.
Perhaps those who have been consistently employed become complacent and do not take the time to reflect or adapt. While they may call themselves managers they do not look outside the box.
My advice would be to become an employer rather than an employee. Take a risk by starting a business related to your experience (hire yourself) and prove to those who would not hire you that you are more than worth the money. If you feel out of touch with some aspects of the generation gap, hire the "gappers" for their skills. Now, manage them!
Posted By Ray Wengenroth, Beverly, MA : 4:22 PM  

I got your Dana Carvey reference, and I liked it!
Posted By George, Fremont CA : 4:29 PM  

Your article is generating a great discussion. Anytime the subject of Boomers and retirement comes up, there are always complaints about the current workers paying for Baby Boomer's social security. As we know, Social Security has always been a pay as you go system. That is, current benefit payments are funded by current contributions. So, when the Baby Boomers were (and still are) the major contributors to the fund, their dollars paid for their parents generation's benefits. I have been contributing to social security for 42 years, and at the maximum for probably the last 25 or 30. My guess is that my contributions, coupled with my employers', if invested in a portfolio of stock funds over those years, would more than pay for my $2,000 per month starting at age 66 - if I make it there.
My advice to the next generation: have lots of kids so there are plenty of workers contributing to the system to pay your benefits when it's your time to retire. Besides - we Boomers love those grandchildren. Keep 'em coming!
Posted By Pete, Aurora Illinois : 4:31 PM  

I keep reading about the cost of older workers health care. We're not all in ill health and out of shape. My health costs have been less than what is paid for my premiums for years. They keep paying premiums for me, I keep not using my health insurance. I seriously consider taking the cash instead of the insurance every year when given the opportunity, but about the time I do that I may need it to use my health insurance. I've always thought doctor's office and hospitals especially were very unhealthy places to be, especially on Mondays when everyone drags in their sick kid without an appointment. Then I noticed everyone I knew that went to a hospital ended up dead. So for years I've made it a point to stay healthy not to deal with health professionals unless absolutely necessary.

This nation as a whole needs a personal health plan. Quit eating junk and fast food, eat real food, get exercise and sleep and maintain a normal weight that isn't an effort and hardship on your body to carry around. And quit coming to work sick.
Posted By wendy lansing mi : 5:09 PM  

Age discrimination definitely goes both ways. I am 24 and work for a small software company that installs and implements EDI-integrated accounting systems that normally requires 3 or more months of rollout and my capacity with the company is managing these projects. I graduated from college with BS in CIS (computer information systems) at age 21, and have been at the company for 5 years come Jan. 1 07.

I definitely feel, at times, that my opinions and/or thoughts are not given the credit they deserve due to my age. I don't run into this a lot, but I do see it from time to time.

As for the bigger question of Social Security, I'm not even counting at all that SS or anything like it will be in place by the time I'm ready to retire (2040). Unless the gov't doesn't something quick, SS is doomed. I contribute 10% to 401k (with 3% comp match) and max out my $4,000 annual contributions to Roth IRA to stymy SS (or lack thereof). I am completely for privatizing social security and everyone having their own account that's contributed to instead of SS. Why should we be funding others' retirement anyway?
Posted By lance, columbus, ohio : 5:13 PM  

Dude I mean Pat,
Your a rambling doinker. I work with punk kids in Engineering everyday and they are no match for my brainpower, experience or off the wall antics.
Posted By 40 somethin, Mukilteo, WA : 7:07 PM  

To - Bob Gefvert Sonoma CA
I believe your comment of : The role of financial columnists like Pat R. seems to be to scare the bloody crap out of everyone - we all will be poor, alone, unloved....unless we buy this or that financial product/service advertised in Money magazine. What did the human race do for 50,000 years without financial planners and columnists?" is actually quite the contrary to what this serves as.

This isn't to serve as a soothsaying doomsday heritical column. It is education. If you can not handle the truth, then you should continue your "Ostrich-ial finances".

What this really really boils down to is Education.

The generations before did not place enough emphasis on Financial education on their children. Consumers were lead to believe that Social Security is great and that it will bail them out, so they didn't save properly. Then once it became a mainstream item of attention in teh media and in Congress, well then now the country is getting educated, after the fact.

For us to NOT repeat what is about to happen to teh Boomers, we need to save money, reduce debt (roughly $9200/household) and teach the younger generations the principles of proper management.

I see way too much finger pointing at everyone else.

Age discrimination is only a byproduct of lack of education. You wouldn't even need to work if you were educated earlier.

I can carry on, but I think the point has been made. The damage is done. The best way to stop the bleeding is if the next generation starts taking responsibility for it's affairs and stop thinking that "I will start saving tomorrow" Don't you know that tomorrow is yesterday already?
Posted By Joe C Las Vegas, NV : 7:16 PM  

I'm 47, saved and invested well. All the kids (3) are gone, the cars are paid for and it's the wife and I now. I down-sized myself from a level 7 position to a level one postion with my company. I saved and invested well. That's what others aren't doing! Being financially responsible seems to be a thing of the past! They don't plan to fail, they fail to plan and make sacrifices!
Posted By Anonymous : 8:10 PM  

First thing, no one said Social Security would stop paying benefits completely. Rather, they would be decreased by 25%. Second, this thing with older workers health care costs. At age 65, you become eligible for Medicare and your employer's insurance bill goes down.

I work in IT and have close to 30 years experience. Most of my coworkers are in their late 20s and early 30s. They have good technical skills, but don't seem to know how to finish a project - they can code but can't seem to deliver a good quality finished project. I spend around a quarter of my workday carrying a mop around cleaning up their buggy products.

I would say about half of them have a good work ethic and the other half could use some improvement. One of the problems they have is they've spent their whole lives in IT and don't know the business very well, so they build products that don't always fulfill the user's needs.

One of the problems older workers face is that they know all the legacy products, and thus are asked to work on them. So, they don't always get to use the latest technology. Then, when the legacy systems are retired, they're told that they didn't keep up their skills. Excuse me, how can I keep up my skills on a new product when you have me here 10 hours a day working on the old stuff?

And last, don't worry about not knowing the latest communication fad. Most of them are just distractions and won't find a permananent home in the workplace. You'll be able to figure out which ones are valuable pretty quickly.
Posted By James, Peachtree City, GA : 9:03 PM  

Multi-tasking by ADD youth is fine and so on... But at the end of the day being cool isn't necessarily being productive. New information must be generated/discovered from real work; not generated from rearranging the information chairs on the deck of the listing USS Titanic. And it must be applied to practical ends to make tangible economic progress as measured by financial gain and an improved environment (social to ecological).

Regarding the aged: Older experienced minds can be just as pliable as young ones, and perhaps more efficient because of practiced discipline.

If current partnership between American generations becomes misplaced, future Americans might best invest in learning Mandarin and Hindi. Especially when answering email and talking on two phones on a PDA and over video IP is revealed to be something other than productive.

Why should we bother to learn these foreign languages? Because taking our new Asian bosses' dinner orders in English may not always remain fashionable nor paying for them with fiat US dollars tenable. How many Americans can make it in the service industry anyway? As waiters and waitresses no less?

Our society will best advance when our older generation(s) is partnered with the energetic younger ones. This passes on the collective wisdom of the American experience (technology to literature to philosophy, etc.).
Otherwise we might not continue to compete against our very motivated world competitors. Perhaps it is already too late!
Posted By Dr. Bill York, Conroe, Texas : 11:20 PM  

Forget about the baby boomers. What will happen to Social Security and Medicare when 11-30 million people who broke the law to be here and given citezinship?
Posted By Sammy, SoCal : 11:55 PM  

It is not that the mind ages faster, but that our knowledge and experience becomes obsolete faster. Experience is only valued within a company and an industry; when that goes away, the value of that experience largely becomes worthless. No one is interested in hiring a 50 year old entry level worker and most 50 year olds are not interested in being one.
Posted By Dave, Tustin, CA : 2:02 PM  

You think you're scared and worried! I am a 47 year old female who had a great career as an registered nurse. While I was still working, I was also attending college in preparation to move up and continue to be marketable. Five years ago I found out I had multiple sclerosis. The mind and the body could not keeping up with the physical demands of the job that I had at the time. I have been on disability for five years, and I hate it! I feel guilty, ashamed, and worthless. My husband divorced me the minute he found out I was ill. I went from a hard working and ambitious person. Some one who was contibuting to society, to someone who is concerened whether I'll be financially sound at the age of fifty. I have returned to school to see if I can at least get a masters in nursing so I might be able to teach part-time. As a baby boomer, my concern is not retirement, by then I will be living on the streets. Buck-up and be thankful you have your health, (insurance, investments, and so on) and the choice to work or not.
Posted By J. Rath, St. Louis, MO : 4:57 PM  

Here in Ohio, the teachers' retirement system is basically phasing out the medical care for retirees by the year 2020. That means that the majority of us teachers in the work force are not leaving. Hence, no places for the young teachers coming out of college.I have 35 years, and have no plans to retire due to the fact that currently my monthly health premiums would be $800 for my wife and me if I retired. With prescriptions, it would be close to $1300. Not only that, lack of sufficient school funding is breaking the back of the school districts in this state and scores of districts are laying off teachers every year. So we boomers aren't going anywhere until we have to go.
Posted By Edward, Akron, Ohio : 2:53 PM  

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.