by Lance Lloyd
(KNWA) Retirement is often thought of as living leisurely and enjoying the benefits of a long career. Many close to this age are still working that 9 to 5 to keep a roof over their heads.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people 55 and older are having to forego their golden years and accept a reality that they may never stop working.
“You want to enjoy life. You don’t want to work all your life,” says Doug Allen, who is recently unemployed.
A growing share of baby boomers are opting to work well into what traditionally would be their retirement years.
“There’s just too many bills to pay,” says Carol Hayes, who is looking for a job.
Instead of kicking back and relaxing, they’re still struggling to make ends meet.
“My husband is 75 years old and he still works. We’ve both been struggling to live a normal life and be able to pay our bills,” Hayes said.
Through 2024, the older American workforce is on track to grow by nearly 5 percent.
“Unfortunately, 55 and older workers have a hard time finding a job if they lose the one they have,” says Tammy Jones, Goodwill Career Services manager.
This has become a stark reality for folks like Allen and Hayes, who have become unemployed.
“You realize it’s going to happen one day. I’ve been working for 32 years,” Allen said.
Allen said circumstances for workers have changed over the years, leaving doubts for many about their future.
“When I went to work there were no insecurities about your job. They were busy enough where you knew that job was going to be there for a long time,” Allen says.
Economist Mervin Jeberaj with the University of Arkansas follows these trends closely. It’s a problem he and many others have been keeping an eye on.
“I think this has been sort of this long-term sleepy problem that we haven’t dealt with. A lot of the baby boomers that are retiring are the ones that have saved for retirement, and the ones that haven’t continue to remain in the workforce,” Jeberaj said.
Arkansas’ labor participation for those nearing retirement age is close to 70 percent, but those numbers fall off after the age of 65.