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Slowdown brings retirement blues

business Updated: Oct 26, 2008 20:45 IST
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US seniors are having to put off their golden years of retirement as the global economic slump affects their savings and pensions and the cost of living climbs.

At least seven in 10 Americans older than 45 expect they will have to continue to work beyond 65, the usual age of retirement, a study by the AARP, a huge lobbying and interest group for people over 50, showed.

Most of them said they would have to continue to work because they will need the money or will need to support members of their family.

“Not only those who are close to retirement are looking at their 401 K (pension fund) and recognising that they simply don't have enough money to retire, but also those who are retired, are looking at their portfolios and recognising that, in fact, they may have to go back to work,” said Deborah Russel, AARP director of workforce issues.

With the exception of a few professions, such as police officer or pilot, there is no obligatory retirement age in the United States.

“In recent weeks, we’ve seen a huge surge in traffic on our website,” said Tim Driver, director of Retirementjobs.com, which helps retirees find a job.

Currently some 16 per cent of Americans older than 65 are working, compared with 12 per cent at the end of the 1990s. A study by auditors Ernst and Young showed that nearly two thirds of middle class retirees will run out of savings before they die, and advised that they rein back their outgoings to avoid falling into poverty.

Evelyn Thomson, 55, and her husband, 65, settled in Pikeville, Kentucky, to live out their retirement days.

But with the cost of living on the rise, the $2,500 a month from her husband’s pension fund — built up during 38 years working at a large US automobile manufacturer — doesn’t go far and the couple has had to tighten their belts, and ride back out of the retirement sunset and into the workplace.

“We don’t eat out, we don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything,” said Evelyn Thomson, a licensed social worker and substance abuse therapist.

“My husband works full-time at Wal-Mart and it’s still very, very tight. I need to find a job and make as much as I can, but with everyone looking for work, that’s hard.”