During this past year, after a long period of teaching millennials how to develop, refine, and implement new business ideas, I began to shift the focus of this blog away from the needs of millennials to take time to build a deeper understanding of the needs of the 50Plus demographic. My last post of 2015 concluded that entrepreneurship is not going to be a choice, rather a necessity, going forward for many in the 50Plus cohort. We are a unique and sizable group numbering over 110 million in the US alone. Thanks to advancements in medical science and an improved understanding of healthy living, we are going to live longer than any of us could have ever imagined during our early working years. That’s the good news! The bad news is the state of our collective finances. A recent report from BlackRock, the largest manager of retirement assets in the US, provides data on our likely future financial position. These data were taken from the results of a survey of over 4,000 Americans, collected as part of a larger annual global study. Their conclusion is this: 71% of Baby Boomers, the 52-70 year old slice of 50Plus demographic by yearend 2016, are worried about their ability to afford retirement. On average we expect $45,500 a year in retirement income but only have assets of $136,200 set aside today.These assets are likely to produce, at best, only $9,129 per year. That is a huge $37,000 per year shortfall! Can that gap be closed? My gut says that the "job market" cannot and will not be able to help us with the significant boost we will need in order to achieve that outcome! At best a lucky few will close the “retirement financing gap” through a job created by someone else.
Two articles this past week focused on the state of the job market for the 50Plus demographic, confirming that the employment outlook for 50Plus individuals is weak in spite of a six plus year economic recovery. The first report came from Patricia Cohen, in the NY Times, entitled Over 50, Female and Jobless Even as Others Return to Work. Patricia tells the personal stories of a number of 50Plus women struggling in the current job market. She goes on to cite a US Federal Reserve report and highlights data on 50Plus women trying to return to the workforce after significant time out of it. Today 50% of the women in the 55 to 65 age bracket are classified as “long-term unemployed”, which is double the figure from 2006 for the same age group for women. The situation is better for 50Plus men, but only by a slim margin.
The second article is One Laid-Off Boomer’s Job Hunt: Too Old For This? by Kevin Kusinitz, a talented 50Plus writer on the NPR website next avenue. Kevin chronicles his own experiences in the past three years looking for jobs. He focuses specifically on the absurdity of in-person interviews, demonstrating the many ways in which the deck is stacked against 50Plus applicants. The bottom line? He hasn’t had any luck. Granted he represents a lone data point, but if you want more anecdotal evidence just read the 1,400 combined comments from both his and Cohen's articles left by 50Plus individuals with painfully similar experiences.
It is clear to me that we can’t hold our breath waiting for others to create enough jobs to put all the 50Plus individuals who want to close a “retirement financing gap,” or who just want a cushion of some extra cash, back to work. This brings me back to my main message in my last few blog posts of 2015. The only shot many of us have is to begin to think entrepreneurially and ask how can we solve this for ourselves. The government and corporate America certainly aren’t going to save us.
I will be launching a new website in the first quarter of 2016 to help fellow 50Plus individuals recognize their inner entrepreneur and to understand ways in which we can leverage our years of experience, deep knowledge, talents and wisdom to generate new income for ourselves without risking the capital that we do have. All it will take is our time and a willingness to try. We can do it!
All comments are welcome. If you would rather comment privately, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing any thoughts / suggestions on where I am going with this.