Times Are Tough for Old Folks, Too

Having lived through the economy’s ups and downs for multiple decades, older folks might be expected to greet today’s downturn with stiff upper lips. But they aren’t. In a new report from the MetLife Mature Market Institute (based on polling in July), 53 percent of Americans age 60-plus think the current situation is “worse” than “comparable or similar economic conditions you have experienced in the past.” Just 22 percent said it’s “not as bad,” with most of the rest saying it’s “about the same.”

Though people in the 60-plus cohort are less likely than young adults to be driving to work, they’ve still been hit hard by gas prices — more so than by increases in prices for some other essentials. Given a menu of choices and asked to say which has affected them most negatively, 51 percent pointed to high gas prices, more than the combined total of those mentioning rising food prices (25 percent), rising healthcare costs (12 percent) or the decline in home values (7 percent).

So far, relatively few have coped with current economic travails by withdrawing (or planning to withdraw) money they’d expected to leave in their retirement nest egg. Sixteen percent have done this in the past 12 months. Another 8 percent report relying more on other people for financial help than they’d otherwise have done.

Among 60-plusers who are still working, 73 percent said they aren’t pushing back their retirement date. But 21 percent of those who had retired said they’ve come back into the labor market in an effort to cope with financial strains caused by the current economic downturn. Among retirees who are divorced, separated or widowed, the figure rises to 29 percent.