A good deal has been reported in the media about members of younger generations failing to find employment following graduation. We’ve also heard it said retirees are earning virtually no interest on their investments/savings. But data from the Labor Department indicates Baby Boomers are the greatest victims of the latest recession. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have lost the most earning power of any age group. Household incomes among members of this group are down 10% from what they were three years ago. Retirement savings and home values fell just as Baby Boomers were cresting toward retirement. Not only is their income on the decline, but 31% of this age group are caring for aging parents and still parenting (and supporting) adult children. According to the NY Times article, Boomers have earned the nickname- “Generation Squeeze”. Loss of health care often accompanies the loss of a job among Boomers not yet eligible for Medicare. Economists at Wellesley College suggest life expectancy could decline by as much as three years for this demographic group largely because of limited access to health care. Aging Boomers often work two and three part-time jobs to replace previous salaries. The stress and extended work day/week further contributes to compromised health.
Wow, as a Lady Boomer I find these statistics more than a little depressing. But they made me think of another article I read, also in the New York Times entitled, Goodbye Golden Years. Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser cited statistics similar to those above. He noted, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.” But rather than wallowing in depression and self doubt, Glaser suggested that what American Baby Boomers need is more entrepreneurship.
Glaser pointed out that West Palm Beach, a retiree haven, has the highest self-employment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation, consistent with other areas in the country attracting older Americans. Self-employment makes sense because it allows for more control over working hours and conditions. And our generation loves control.
Many of us have spent years waking up at 6:00 am to be at a job we found depleting. If we are not going to be able to kick back, drive a golf cart and play bridge all day, lets envision a different kind of retirement for ourselves. Here are a few suggestions:
– Develop an exercise plan; join a YMCA or other gym; walk or ride a bike. We are going to need to stay healthy for this next phase, and exercise is a critical component. Make sure your employment endeavors can accommodate your exercise schedule, so you don’t have to be going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning.
-Choose an enterprise that fits your circadian rhythm (internal clock) one that allows you to arise and go to bed at a time best suited for you
-delve into your psyche through journaling or quiet reflections; explore what you have a passion for. You may want to undergo a personality assessment to discover a field that suits you.
-Make it fun. We are the generation who invented rock and roll. We like to have fun.
I’m not trying to offer Pollyanna platitudes here, but I also think we have to make chicken salad out of chicken #### (expletive deleted). This economic recession has adversely impacted virtually everyone I know, including myself. But I do think we have to find some element of goodness in the midst of adversity.
Now is your chance…Here’s to meeting your entrepreneurial self this year.