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The Baby Boomer Bust

Boomers better keep on working

By MSNLiving Feb 22, 2012 12:07AM
By Rich Maloof

Having arrived after the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation, the baby boomer generation had two tough acts to follow. These days, it’s really tough.

The Associated Press is running a story this week introducing readers to a handful of baby boomers now in their sixties who are realizing that retirement has been indefinitely postponed.  The new “work till you drop” ethic is a tough nut to swallow for people who have been on the work force for over four decades and lived well enough in the past to support their own parents’ retirement.

There’s a unique story for each of the nation’s 78 million boomers, and a mess of common factors tarnishing their golden years. Technology and automation have left fewer opportunities, and scores of remaining jobs have been shipped overseas. Employed boomers are forever at risk of being undercut by younger, less experienced candidates willing to accept less pay (often, ironically, because they live with their baby boomer parents), and in the soured economy pensions have been lost and benefits cut. Nest eggs have been scrambled by a stock market in crisis. There’s no parachute for most baby boomers, let alone a golden one.

Here’s hoping things ease up for Generation X, hot on the heels of baby boomers, and for the young Gen Y and Echo Boomers to follow. They said ten years ago that Gen Xers would be the first generation in America not to enjoy a higher standard of living than their parents. If current trends continue at pace, the children of baby boomers could be working till they’re 85.

Sometimes called the “pig in the python” generation, adult boomers changed the shape of each decade they passed through. They reveled in the cultural revolution of the 1960s, the indulgences of the ’70s and ’80s, and the boon times of the ’90s. It’s an unforeseen and unwelcome downshift late in life, but the best economic times for baby boomers appear to be in their rear view.

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