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Nancy Jean Parsons, 50, who lives near Orlando, Florida, took me to task yesterday.
She was responding to a thank-you note I sent to people age 50 and older who had shared stories of the recession shredding their retirement plans. Fifty, she said, is too young for retirement, unless you’re leaving the military:
Geez. Don’t rush me.
Well, I resemble that remark. I’m 50 and fighting it. I throw away all AARP mail. I’m far from retirement, unless I win the lottery and become a full-time recreational athlete. I wrote back:
Isn’t planning for retirement important for people our age?
Parsons’ answer encapsulated my every anxiety: maturing in a retracting job market, the real estate meltdown, the demise of newspapers and the financial crisis:
Well, planning is a dead issue. With the house underwater and (being) down six figures in the regular (and) retirement accounts, the concept of ‘planning’ a retirement is a bit of a joke now. Everyone I know is looking for a job or trying to keep theirs and angle into one that ‘lets’ you be older on the job. Media, advertising, PR, etc., and many more fields have ‘get lost’ signs up for the people over 50. But we are not all nurses. So how do we stay viable in the workplace, since we have to, when we are indeed aging? This is what retirement planning is: How can I keep on working? And where?
I offered a suggestion:
What about the billions going to the economic stimulus plan and the bank bailout? What about the Baby Boomer brain drain as they retire from thousands of local, state and federal government jobs? Won’t those be opportunities we could pursue over the age of 50?
Parsons, a grad student pursuing a Masters degree in education, questions whether such jobs will materialize:
Do a story on even one over-45 person making this kind of shift and I will donate $75 to the Susan Komen breast cancer fund the next day. I think it is an urban myth. I am listening to your show, waiting for this success story. The construction, green engineering, materials management and bank auditing jobs afoot are very heavily male, like overwhelmingly.
There’s more, but you get the drift. So, I told her I’d ask the Public Insight Network: Have you shifted careers after turning 45? What works, what is a waste of time, and why are you shifting? Are you looking to the economic stimulus plan or bank bailout for a new job?
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