Financial crisis adds pressure to keep working

Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:53pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An 82-year-old real estate agent with severe arthritis and two artificial hips thought she would be retired by now, while a professor 25 years her junior wonders if he will ever stop working.

With stock portfolios shrinking in recent weeks, and house values sinking over the past year, many older Americans still on the job say they see no end in sight.

A majority of Americans have long said they expect to work past retirement age and now, with the financial crisis, their numbers are bound to grow, experts say.

Even before the crisis, 70 percent of older workers surveyed last year planned to work into their retirement years, research released this week by the AARP lobbying and advocacy group for older Americans showed. A need for money was the most common reason they cited.

"There's a lot of reasons for people to be less secure in retirement than they were 20 years ago or even 20 days ago," said Richard Johnson, researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington.

"This is a long-term change that we're seeing and of course it's really been magnified in the past month," he said.

While no up-to-the-minute data is available to show just how many more older workers will be staying on the job, there's little doubt more will make that decision, said Deborah Russell, director of work-force issues at AARP.

"With people's knee-jerk reaction in looking at both the economy and looking at their own finances, working longer may be the only way to get themselves to remain financially secure," she said.   Continued...

<p>A crumpled U.S. one dollar bill is displayed in Toronto October 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>