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The Elusive Retirement Tsunami Hard to Predict

Category: General Retirement Issues

May 24, 2011 — Not so long ago many institutions were bracing for a wave of baby boomer retirements that were going to leave them with a major talent shortfall. But up until 2011 the opposite has been true, we pesky boomers seem to have been delaying retirement, and in fact we have clogged up the talent path for newer job seekers.

Multiple reports in the press have detailed the “just say no to retirement” phenomenon. The reasons for it are well known – just about everyone’s retirement fund took a hit a few years ago, while millions of boomers have neither… saved enough for a comfortable retirement nor received the pensions they expected when they started their careers. Beyond financial reasons, many boomers enjoy working and have no intention of stopping.

Negative Publicity about Public Sector Pensions/Benefits Could Change That
The recent torrent of publicity about state indebtedness and pension and health care underfunding could bring back the expected tsunami after all. Droves of federal and state workers, concerned about what could happen to their promised benefits, are re-considering retirement after feeling the rush of negative publicity. A common comment is that if legislators are going to take away benefits, they might as well retire now and collect what they can get. Stateline has a good article on the phenomenon, “Is the State Retirement Boom Finally Here“?

More on Boomer Retirements
Ralph Smith provides plenty of details about federal retirements in his article in Fedsmith, “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes – the Elusive Retirement Tsunami“. Smith points to a recent survey of federal employees in which “31% of those taking the survey and who are eligible to retire indicated they are planning to retire sooner than they had planned.” A similar article, “The Retirement Event That Shall Not be Named“, provides more info. Another reference to check out is: “People Plan on Working into Their 70’s – or Later“.

Bottom Line:
Nobody really knows when the retirement tsunami will hit, but it will come someday, even if we all work into our 90’s.

Comments: When are you planning to retire, or not? Please use the Comments section below to share your thoughts with our fellow members.

Posted by John Brady on May 24th, 2011


  1. Great article. It’s interesting – but a fact – that retirement is being delayed in the current generations. Personally, I can’t imagine myself not working!

    by Rebecca — May 25, 2011

  2. I can retire in a few months, but I’ve said it often…
    I’ll retire when I either have enough or had enough. I’m pretty close to both.

    by John — May 25, 2011

  3. My husband retired the first time at 55 with a pension that wasn’t enough to support us. We took a year off, then he worked in an entirely different industry for almost 2 years (for less $$). Then, due to some bad financial decisions, we were forced to return to work in our respective fields due to some bad financial decisions and the economy in general. So, at 60 and 58 we both started over with a goal to go out when we each reached 65 but that’s not happening – for me anyway (I’m the oldest). He is adament that the house gets paid off before we retire, so it looks like another three years for me and another 4 years for him. Although we’d both like more flexibility to spend time with our grandkids and travel, I have come to recognize that continuing to work has definitely kept us sharp and engaged so it’s not all bad. We are now exploring options for a part time enterprise for when we finally retire for the last time – but I guess that would mean we’re not really retired???

    by Genie — May 25, 2011

  4. 10 years ago in our fifties we thought we would work forever simply for the stimulation and sense of being indispensible in our craft, however the companies have become very different and every step forward is a step that has been made over and over again. Employment became more taxing and more boring at the same time. That being said only I have been able to retire and health sealed that decision, my husband will continue to work to full retirement to insure that our portfolio will sustain our remaining years at the level of spend we think we need. We had hoped to get him out at 62.5 as well, but that seems too risky.We want to pay the house off as well before he joins me, that is more challenging than we thought it would be originally.

    by Wanda — May 25, 2011

  5. We have been lucky. I retired at 67. My wife has been a homemaker for over 20 years. We are able to live on my retirement income. This does not include any of our investments which are our rainy day fund. Because our house was paid off we have been able to use its sale to purchase a retirement home in SC. Time and inflation will tell if our plans and decisions were wise or not.

    by Greg — May 25, 2011

  6. My husband “retired” (corporate buyout) at 46. He is now 64 and happy. He manages our investment portfolio full time. I am still working at 63 but he wants me to retire asap. I enjoy the stimulation of work but it’s getting to be nonrewarding monetarily. The company I work for instituted 10% paycuts across the board a year ago and we will never get the $ back. No raiseds, no perks. I am now cutting back on my work hours and doing more work from home, transitioning to retirement.

    by Mary — May 27, 2011

  7. The economy seems to be deterring many baby boomers from retiring. Our parents were most likely a part of the last generation of people that could retire in their 50’s and live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Most people of our generation will not have that luxury. It may be a good idea to find a place we would like to retire, move there and continue to work until we are able to retire. Comments?

    by Linda — May 27, 2011

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