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Elders Worry About Today and Tomorrow

category_bug_journal2.gif A new report from the AARP Public Policy Institute highlights the pessimism of elders (50-plus) about the economy in general and their job opportunities.

A large number, 76 percent were “not too” or “not at all” confident that they could find a good job within the next six months. (Asked of people working and people no longer in workforce.)

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[For larger images within the entire survey report, click here (pdf).]

Asked about whether job opportunities and the economy in general have gotten better, worse or stayed about the same in the year since October 2010, elders were overwhelmingly gloomy.

77 percent of respondents believe job opportunities have worsened or stayed the same and wait for this: 93 percent say the overall economy has worsened or stayed the same.

Job Opportunity Changes Since 2010

Although the 6.1 percent unemployment rate for people older than 50 is lower than the overall rate of 9.1 percent, it takes them, on average, a bit more than a year to find a new job compared to an average of 38.6 weeks for younger workers.

This survey is a followup to a similar one conducted by the AARP Public Policy Institute a year ago. Of the more than 5,027 people interviewed then, they were able to locate about 1304 of the same people for this survey.

From a list of nine choices, the number one worry among these elders was about whether the president and Congress to work together to solve the nation's economic woes. 91 percent were “very” or “somewhat” worried about this. The other worries in descending order – very or somewhat worred:

80%  Another recession
77%  Inflation
72%  Further Wall Street decline
72%  Rising taxes
63%  Having enough money for healthcare
52%  Rising interest rates
35%  Able to pay rent/mortgage
32%  Losing job

Other topics covered in the report include retirement income confidence, savings balances compared to pre-recession, living standards compared to parents' and expected children's living standards, among others.

How do these compare with your worries?

(H/T to Arthur Delaney of Huffington Post)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: A Senior's First White Water Rafting


Wow, mine are more like will the cattle get out today? Did we get that fence fixed right? Is my grandson's flu just that or something more serious? Will my son have to fly to Spain again soon? How come my skin is itchy today? What can I take as an antihistamine if Zyrtec raises my bp which it was found to do this fall? Is my daughter taking care of her health? And so forth. I do think about what's going on with the country but don't really worry so much about it as think about what to write about it or who to vote for but worry, not really. I actually try not to worry about all the things I mentioned above but when you asked this question, I thought what am I worried about right now, this moment, and they instantly came to mind; so they probably are not far below the surface.

Reading the poll results, I worry that 91 percent of us are fixated on the failure of the parties in Washington to get together to create solutions -- because we remain stuck in the idea that most of the politicians there are actually trying to find solutions.

I've stopped believing that. I don't believe that most leading Republicans care about fixing the country for the 99 percent. They just want to destroy Democratic politicians.

The Democrats are more of a muddle. A kind of historic inertia inclines most of them toward making things better for the American majority, but this only makes them patsies for the Reps, doesn't make them fighters for the 99 percent.

Elders and everyone else have every reason listed to be worried. If we don't get government back on track -- back to the business of promoting the general welfare for everyone -- we're all screwed.

On the other hand, having lived through several cycles of this, elders can also notice that, despite our rulers' best efforts, we've never quite driven the country over a cliff. It seems worth getting together with others, again, to demand better.

Ah yes, I worry right along with all those survey folks. It took George 14 months to find a new job in any field. Many of our friends have lost their jobs. They can't find new ones. If I didn't have a tiny bit of money, I would be on the street or dead. I'm unemployable. My meds are now over the counter and have gone from 6 for 3 months to 30 a month. It's the small things that mount up and get ya in the end.

How many older folks can't afford food much less heat for the coming winter. My problems seem small compared to theirs.

You stay warm now.

To be honest,Ronni, I am too old to worry about any of those things for myself or my husband.

BUT, I worry about EVERY ONE of them for my adult children who need their jobs and health indurance and help with college tuition for their children.

I think President Obama is on the right track now as far as proceeding with his programs without the cooperation of republicans,who are absolutely useless.

Let's hope some of his ideas work out to the advantage of the 99 percenters,as they call themselves. I hope they can "Stick it out" through the cold Winter months,long enough to get the satisfaction and financial
assistance they deserve.

I worry that the politicians will take us over the cliff this time. Unless they get serious about the real cause of the perilous state of the economy and do the sensible things necessary to change course, it is going to get much worse before it gets better.

I worry about the fate of my children. My daughter, a very intelligent woman of 50, just lost a second job due to no fault of her own. I worry that she will be unable to find another one. My son soon to become 61, has an underwater mortgage and is struggling to keep the house he has owned for many years.

If things don't get better I worry about this country sliding into a third world country. We drastically lag behind nearly every other industrial country in all measurable charts on education, health care, etc.

A couple of things:
the low " 6.1 percent unemployment rate for people older than 50 is lower than the overall rate of 9.1 percent" is because most of the over fifties who have been laid off or otherwise unemployed is because they've given up looking and therefore for government statistical purposes only, are no longer counted among the unemployed. The real percentage of over fifties who would take a job if they could find one is probably closer to 20%,
Truth is that one out of 5 people in the U.S. who are ready, willing and able to work, cant find any.
It's going to be a long, tough winter!

It is going to take a long time to get the country on a productive, non-financial destroying path once again. Many older folks cannot wait that long. The younger generation will adjust, however painful those lifestyle changes might prove to be. The older one is, the less likely their investments and house values will recover during their lifetime. The values lost over the last decade will not be recovered and growth will not again occur soon enough.

I heard Tom Brokaw saying we retired need to be more like the "Greatest Generation" and pare down our expectations for Social Security and Medicare. I guess I know the Greatest Generation won WWII but they also had segregation, no women's rights and led us to Vietnam - another senseless loss of Americans. Not that I care what a news reader or book hawker thinks, but I would like Social Security and Medicare around for my children. What will our children do when their 401K tanks when they need it or their house been devalued by half. The "Walking Dead" will not need extras - they can use displaced elders.

My three children have all experienced devastating losses already and are not all out of the woods yet. They are smart, hard-working, creative people who have lost high-paying jobs through no fault of their own. My adult grandchildren are struggling, too. As a single woman with a career in the arts, I've never been much over the poverty line, but was fairly comfortable on social security and government assistance, and even enjoyed a few treats since my ex-husband died. This week I found out what my drug bills will be after Jan. 1st. Here we go again--no more helping my family; no more treats. I know many are worse off.

I'm not sure we're ever too old to worry about whether the reduced retirement funds we have left will last as long as we do! That's a big concern of mine. I'm fortunate in that I'm still employed P/T, but if state budget cuts de-fund the nonprofit I work for, I'll probably join the rolls of unemployed older Americans in a few months. At 75, I have no illusions that I'll ever find another job.

As long as my husband (82) and I remain reasonably healthy, more or less mobile and in command of our faculties, we'll manage even if our income is reduced further. However, my worst nightmare is ending up very old, alone, sick and broke. I have no desire to exist in such a helpless and vulnerable state. With "I've got mine" the prevailing philosophy of a significant segment of our society and political system today, I have no doubts that I'd be strictly on my own. (I would challenge Rep. Paul Ryan et. al. to fend for themselves if their fully-privatized retirement accounts tank when they're 80+!)

It is the Western Mass Apocalypse, with no power since Saturday and trees and limbs down over power wires everywhere you look. I'm sitting in the town emergency shelter, which is full of elders (and some others) trying to keep warm. There are also free meals here for those who need. I'm lucky, living with my daughter and family and have help surviving. This town has stepped up to the plate to reach out to the elders who live here. But this is not always the case. It's scary. And the Northeast Winter is just beginning.

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