Friday, October 10, 2008

What Does Saving For Retirement Get You These Days?

This week, top Congressional budget analysts reported that about $2 trillion of Americans’ retirement savings is now gone due to the continuing decline of the stock market. In addition, older Americans are working longer than they use to, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting the number of elder workers to increase by more than 80% by the year 2016. Is this because we want to continue to work? Or we have to continue to work?

As a recent college graduate, it is honestly hard to fathom being a senior citizen in this economy. Seniors who have worked hard all these years, paid into the system, found themselves prior to the economic downturn sacrificing basic needs just to stretch their dollar further. The recent economic downturn has been a double hit to many seniors with the price of goods and services increasing and their investments falling. The combination has made it all the more difficult to achieve economic security.

Older Americans who planned to be economically secure in their later years are now unsure of their net worth. Many older workers who were once anxiously awaiting retirement are now recalibrating how much longer they must continue to work. For those with jobs that cannot be continued into old age, there is no alternative but to retire and/or look for a new occupation that is more conducive to later in life.

Amidst all the negative news, we can be thankful that Social Security was not privatized these last seven years, so elders can, at least for now, count on Social Security as a source of stable and secure income in retirement. But as the Elder Economic Security Index demonstrates, Social Security alone is not enough.

Even workers who felt economically secure at one point are now seeing their pensions, stocks and 401(k)s on shaky ground. The Elder Economic Security Initiative (EESI) is playing a critical role in helping all elders and their caregivers recognize what it takes to make basic ends meet. EESI is particularly focused on helping our more vulnerable and frail low-income elders reach economic security in these tough economic times. To that end, EESI was recently featured in the Fall 2008 issue of Innovations, a publication of the National Council on Aging in an article, titled, “Keeping Low-Income Seniors Afloat”.

Do you have a personal story to share about how the economic downturn is affecting you or an elder you know? If so, please send your story to

Be sure to participate in the Blog Action Day on Poverty on
October 15 by blogging about the importance of elder economic security!

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