From the July 2007 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

July 1, 2007

Retirement Redefined

Future retirees' income will rely on part-time work

It seems retirement has been redefined, and the new definition includes part-time work. This change from the traditional retirement vision of sitting on a porch swing sipping lemonade has been forced on baby boomers and Gen Xers due to doubts about the future dependability of Social Security. The problem is that current retirees can't find the part-time work they need to support themselves in their golden years.

An early April 2007 Gallup Poll survey by Lydia Saad entitled, "This is Not Your Father's Retirement," in which over 1,000 telephone interviews with American adults, aged 18 and older were conducted, found that nearly 75% of non-retired Americans plan to rely on income from part-time work after they retire. Furthermore, 21% of this group say part-time work will be a major source of retirement income for them, contrasting with the 3% of current retirees that rely on part-time work as a major source of income. This drastic change is not a surprising response, since, according to Federal Reserve Board statistics, Americans are not saving nearly enough to fund their own retirements.

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According to the poll, roughly 75% of Americans--including those who are retired and those not yet retired--say they have enough money to live comfortably at present. But those respondents that are not yet retired are far less positive about their financial futures. Only about half say they expect to have enough money to live comfortably when they do retire, and four in ten are doubtful they will have enough. However, according to the report, all this could come with a silver lining for the economy if retirees develop into a new class of productive workers.

Ilyse Shapiro, founder of the job search Web site www.myparttimepro.com, has reviewed this and other studies and says she is confident that "the reports' findings will help open employers' eyes to this treasure trove of talent that is not currently being tapped."

However, a recent study by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth found that even though 85% of hiring managers said it was important to expand their employee recruitment pool, only 34% hire those seeking flexible work options. Within the next ten years, however, 85% of corporations said they would expand their recruitment strategy to include project-based staff and former employees who had left the workforce. The catch is that 61% of hiring managers said that an updated, current skill set was the most important success factor for hiring employees who had left the company or workforce.

"I am thrilled to see studies being conducted and books being published on the plight of many of today's job seekers," said Shapiro in a statement. "With 78 million Baby Boomers becoming retirement age-eligible, and only 49 million Gen Xers behind them to fill their shoes, employers must be more creative with how and whom they hire."

In addition to the findings regarding part-time retiree work, the Gallup Poll found that the average age at which current retirees stopped working is 60. Also, nearly 70% of current retirees retired before turning 65, while only 27% retired at 65 or older. Contrasting this is the average age at which the nation's pre-retirees expect to retire--64. Moreover, 57% of non-retirees say they will retire at 65 or older. The poll explains these differences as reflective of changes in Social Security laws that have delayed the age at which Americans are eligible to start receiving full benefits from 65 to 67. It also points to changes in societal norms about working longer and the financial needs of retirees.

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