Riding the Tail of the Boomer Generation
October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
50 is the new 30 as confident and fit people might tell you. However, young as they may feel, life at 50 isn’t getting any easier professionally or economically for that cohort. In 2010 media began to notice people in their fifties who suffered layoffs weren’t getting new work or, if they were, it was taking an awfully long time. A New York Times article profiled the problem noting that by 2009 unemployment for the 55+ set was at a record 7.4%. Age demographics often group 55-64 and 45-54 so it’s a little hard to tell what specifically happens to people 50-59 but, poverty figures for those groups seem to reflect employment problems for 50somethings. In 2010 23% of 55-64 and 24% of 45-54 were living at 200% of the poverty level.
Those hardships are corroborated by a report published in September now indicating that 4.9 million young boomers (50-59) were at risk of hunger in 2009. That’s a 38% increase over 2007. Can you visualize 4.9 million people? It’s more than the total population size of Alabama. That report also tells us that the most dramatic spike in food insecurity was with people at or above twice the poverty line which would include those 24% of the 50 somethings mentioned above. And, if you’re African Americans or identified as Hispanic you were twice as likely to have food insecurities.
People in their fifties who are out of work or food insecure have unique challenges. They’re too young to stop working, ineligible for social security or medicare, and too young or too old for most food relief programs. They also face a world of dwindling retirement resources, uncertainty in the social security program and disappearing pensions so they will need to work longer.
Having difficulty getting food leads to nutrient deficiencies and is known to compromise health particularly leading to depression, chronic diseases, diabetes and problems with the activities of daily living. Greater medical costs for society result. I urge government policies and programs that include people in their 50’s as a way to head off an overwhelming oncoming waste of human resources and hardships for the tail end of our boomer population.