|By Rusty Garrett, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.|
Accounting for nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population, their impact on the economy, government policy and culture is expected to be every bit as profound in their golden years as it has been since their birth.
Baby boomers are Americans born between the period of 1946 and 1964. The oldest of those, reaching the age of 66 this year, are likely contemplating retirement or have already removed themselves from full-time work.
As boomers hang up their toolbelts and clean out their desks -- as many as 10,000 a day qualify for
According to an article published on The American Dream, a website of social commentary, as many as 36 percent of those in the baby boomer generation have not contributed to a retirement program of any kind. Among those who did, many relied on 401(k)s and investment portfolios that have been seriously compromised by collapsing markets.
"They may have not saved as much for retirement as they needed," said
Compounding efforts to build security has been a decade of the worst performance in history of financial markets, impacting 401(k)s and other securities-based investments. "They've not grown like previous decades. That's just the reality," Siebenmorgen said.
The 2010 MetLife Annual Survey of Employee Benefit Trends indicated 62 percent of the younger members of the baby boom generation and 60 percent of the older members felt they were behind schedule in retirement preparedness. The survey also indicated 16 percent of boomers reported they had not started retirement planning and 20 percent said they had no savings goal at all. The
Reasons for not acting were also explored in the survey. Thirty-four percent of older boomers said they did not understand the process while 39 percent said they did not have money to invest in their future.
"Many of them wish they would have set aside more, started earlier," he said.
When asked about their prospects, he said, "I have to be honest with them. I can't sugarcoat it." That honesty involves an analysis of their income, how much they will have in retirement and what their expenses will be.
"The numbers don't lie," he said. "I tell them this is the shortfall and explain they will have to change their expectations. Maybe they will have to work a little longer or find a way to put more money aside."
Siebenmorgen said while many boomers may have done well in preparing for retirement, circumstances sometimes intervene. He said typically half those retiring do not retire by choice. Instead, conditions such as disability, death of a relative, downsizing or a plant closing cause them to end their career earlier than planned.