Though the challenges of this pandemic are universal, it has impacted different demographics in different ways. Baby boomers are in a tough situation given the widespread unemployment combined with how difficult it can be to get a job later in life.
According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, COVID-19 has negatively impacted almost 58% of boomers in the workplace. That’s millions of hard-working people just trying to endure this tough time, like Sue Sweetra, a Colorado-based nurse who was laid off after all elective surgeries were canceled. She told the Wall Street Journal that she began volunteering at a farmers market, where she received free boxes of produce, to help stretch her budget. She was also forced to sell her home and downsize.
Experts predict that a record number of boomers will face involuntary retirement. As of March, 2.9 million members of the generation are out of the workforce. A new report from The New School’s Retirement Equity Lab predicts that more than 4 million Boomers will be forced into early retirement within three months, a trend sparked by the spread of the virus.
Unemployed older Americans face more challenges in the job hunt.
There are several reasons why these job losses are so debilitating. First, many of those affected are too young to collect Social Security or use Medicare, which begin at 62 and 65, respectively. In an economic climate where millions are struggling to make ends meet, setting aside money for retirement can feel impossible. A 2019 Federal Reserve report found that less than half of working Americans over 60 felt on track with their retirement savings. 13% of them had nothing saved.
Unfortunately, simply looking for new work is more complicated than it may seem as you age. After the Great Recession, it took older adults more time to find new jobs.
Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, told the Wall Street Journal, “Once an older person loses his or her job, it takes longer to find a new one.”
Working remotely has practically become the new normal in this post-COVID world, but many older workers have jobs that cannot be performed virtually. Since the virus is riskier the older you get, it’s difficult to navigate.
“You either face a health risk of returning to work too early or an economic risk of running out of money,” Munnell said.
I’m a Memphis bankruptcy attorney who can help you find relief.
Bankruptcy offers hope. Thankfully, it’s for Americans of all ages.
Sometimes, filing for bankruptcy later in life can feel like an admission of failure. In truth, it’s becoming increasingly common for this demographic to file. Recent studies have found that the number of Americans 65 and older who’ve filed bankruptcy has tripled since 1991.
It’s easy to see why. Our safety net has been shrinking for years while living expenses have soared. Unexpected life events—like the loss of a spouse, or a pandemic—can shatter savings.
Anyone who’s spent their life working hard deserves to enjoy their retirement years. This is a difficult time, and it doesn’t need to be any harder.