Your greatest asset

September 6, 2013
By: Vicki Bell

If someone asked you to name your greatest asset, what you would say? Your home? Maybe once upon a time, but probably not anymore, thanks to the recession.

Your 401(k) or stock portfolio? See previous statement.

As stated in the article “Lessons from the Recession” in the September AARP Bulletin, for most of us, our greatest asset is our job.

Those of us in the demographic covered by this publication know all too well just how important a job is. We’re working longer than we ever thought we would. We’ve seen our investments in homes and portfolios lose value at a pace unprecedented in our lifetimes. Gone are the days of looking forward to retirements of leisure and travel.

Thanks to medical advancements, many of us are living longer, the downside of which is stretching an already diminished retirement income. The prospect of not having enough to see us through, especially when it comes to covering healthcare costs that go along with aging, isn’t pretty.

So, we need, value, and live in fear of losing our jobs.

While it’s true that fear of losing a job transcends all age groups, for those 55 and older, that fear is magnified, largely because it takes much longer for a person in this age group to find a new job, and if and when they do, it’s
usually for far less compensation.

As part of its “In Plain Sight—Poverty in America” series, published “It’s OK to be an older worker—as long as you don’t lose your job.”

“The unemployment rate for Americans 55 and older is lower than for any other age group the government tracks, and far below the national average. But if an older worker loses a job, the length of time that person will stay unemployed
is typically much longer than for any other age group.”

Many of these workers want to keep working past the traditional retirement age and are healthy enough to do so, “but … some are fighting employers’ perceptions that workers in their 50s and 60s are out of touch and not worth the investment.

“‘The people in that age group today are in the middle of a huge transition in terms of how age is seen and experienced, and I don’t think the world has caught up with that change,’ said Jacquelyn James, co-director of research at Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work. ‘So older workers are still seen as people who are planning for retirement, who are on their way out their door, who are disengaging.’”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median duration of unemployment for those between 55 and 64 years old was 22.3 weeks in July, compared to the overall median duration for all age groups—13.8 weeks.

Compensation when that new job is finally found? As reported in the article, a BLS analysis of men who experienced long-term unemployment found that even four years after the jobless period, they still
were making less than they once did.

It’s entirely possible that a contributing factor toward lower compensation is the tendency for many workers—not just those 55 and older—to find only part-time work these days. And part-time work is better than nothing, particularly for those nearing retirement age.

As noted in the AARP Bulletin, “even a part-time job at minimum wage can be a lifesaver if it helps you cover your basic living expenses without having to withdraw from a shrinking nest egg in a bear market.”

The Bulletin also recommends that you “don’t retire until you’re confident you could pay your essential expenses for at least two years without having to tap your stock investments. The surest way to achieve that goal is to boost your Social
Security benefit by delaying your application.”

And the surest way to delay your application is to maintain your greatest asset—your job.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209