Times are hard. The economic meltdown of the recent past seems to be continuing without letup, placing more and more financial burdens on the American public.
One group feeling the pinch is the baby boomers, a group that is larger than you might think. Robert Longley, a writer for About.com, brings us some data from a new U.S. Census report (PDF) that shows the boomers to be the fastest growing segment of our national population:
According to the Census’ report, The Older Population: 2010, results of Census 2010 showed that the 65 and older age group grew to 40.3 million people, a 15.1% increase from 35.0 million counted in Census 2000, easily outpacing the 9.7% growth of the total U.S. population since 2000.
The 40.3 million persons in the 65 and older age group comprised about 13.0% of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million counted in Census 2010.
This pinch is being felt in a variety of ways. For one thing, as more and more boomers hit retirement age, the strain on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will get worse. Many boomers are resigning themselves to the prospect of having to work well past retirement age and having less to show for it in the end. As you might expect, this means a good bit of belt-tightening.
Besides working later in life, another trend we are starting to see emerge is that boomers are staying put. While selling one’s home and moving has long been considered a preferred path during retirement, the financial woes of the past three years, particularly in the real estate market, seem to have curtailed that approach.
A recent Associated Press article on NOLA.com takes note of this trend:
Financial experts say those losses, including home prices that have dropped by a third nationwide over the past four years, have left boomers anxious about moving and selling their homes.
‘There’s a mistrust of the real estate market that we didn’t have before,’ said Barbara Corcoran, a New York-based real estate consultant. ‘There’s a concern about whether people will get money out of their house. They envision the home as a problem, not an asset, and this unshakable belief in homes as a tool for retirement has been shaken to the core.’
Factor in the tendency for our older citizens to prefer growing old at home rather than in assisted-living facilities, and it looks like a lot of people may well be living in their current homes for quite some time. Of course, since seniors are becoming the largest single market out there, I’m sure we will see a lot more home solutions geared towards the older set over the coming years. Even if the economy evens out, many have taken substantial losses that could prevent them from moving into that “retirement house.” Only time will tell.