Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Workers giving retirement the boot

Workers giving retirement the boot
By Jonathan Peterson, Times Staff Writer
May 30, 2007

Every morning, a trusty alarm in his own head wakes up John Feyk before 5. Less than an hour later, he is stepping into the white commuter van that drives him 20 miles to Aerospace Corp. in El Segundo.

He has worked there for almost half a century.

"It does get to be more of a strain getting up at 5 in the morning," said Feyk, 79. But retirement, he added, is something he has given little thought to over the years.

"I didn't decide not to retire at 65," said Feyk, a chemical engineer who lives in Rancho Palos Verdes. "You have to decide to retire."

A growing portion of the U.S. workforce seems to agree. After falling for more than 100 years, the retirement age chosen by working Americans is edging up once again, and the trend could have broad consequences for households and the economy.

In the mid-1980s, just 18% of people in their late 60s still had jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. That figure is now up to 29%, and experts believe the level will continue to rise as people confront the prospect of a lengthy and expensive old age with limited retirement benefits. More than 1 in 4 baby boomers — the huge generation born from 1946 to 1964 — plan never to retire, a recent survey by the National Assn. of Realtors shows.

Many will not achieve that goal. Health problems and workplace pressures such as cutbacks force many workers into retirement earlier than they expect. And employers that have a choice often prefer the young, viewing older workers as costly and resistant to new technologies.

Despite that, more older Americans are pulling paychecks, a shift that is increasingly noticeable among people in their late 60s.

The trend "is really quite dramatic, considering what was going on for so long before that," said Sara Rix, a strategic policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute.

For many years, society made it increasingly easy to stop working. Social Security retirement benefits were repeatedly enhanced after World War II. The advent of Medicare in 1965 helped pay the medical bills. Large employers typically offered pensions that guaranteed set payments for life.

Today's workers face a more hazardous landscape. Traditional pensions are increasingly rare. Companies are cutting back retiree healthcare benefits.

Even the bulwark of Social Security is quietly retrenching. The traditional age of 65 to qualify for full retirement benefits is gradually moving upward — workers born in 1960 and after will have to wait until they are 67 to get their full amount. In the coming years, more Social Security benefits will be subject to income tax, and higher premiums for Medicare Part B (which covers certain medical services) will further erode benefits.

These growing financial pressures may hit baby boomers particularly hard. As much as 80% of this group expects to work during what would normally be their retirement years, according to polling by AARP. Meanwhile, legal barriers to work for older people are largely a thing of the past. In 1986, the government outlawed mandatory retirement for most jobs.

"I'm not sure when I would want to retire at this point," said Claudine Welsh, 60, a Corona resident who works for a benefits administrator. She is thinking about taking on a second job and expects to work for at least seven more years. "Basically, it's because of money."

Welsh, who is single, has no private pension, and her 401(k) balance is $10,000. Home equity is key to her future economic security — she co-owns two houses with relatives. Beyond that, she views work as an important part of life and talks about one day opening up a coffee shop with her older sister.

Otherwise, "what are you going to do with all that time?" she asked.

And there could be a lot of that. For a married couple of 65-year-olds, the odds are 83.7% that at least one spouse will survive to age 85, according to the Society of Actuaries. Chances that one will live to 90 are 63%, and chances that one will reach 95 are 35.7%.

Ten years ago, the typical age of retirement for all U.S. workers was 60, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Recently, it has risen to 62 overall, a shift that researchers believe may be partly tied to the increasing reliance on 401(k) plans and the decline of traditional pensions that guaranteed monthly payments for life.

The trend could potentially have a big effect on society, putting more money in the pockets of the elderly and even giving the economy a boost, as more workers continue paying income taxes in their golden years. Research by analysts at the Urban Institute suggests that if all workers added one year to their careers, it could markedly reduce the projected shortfall in Social Security.

"It's a direction we have to go in," said Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "You can let your 401(k) plan build up some more. You can reduce the period that you have to live off your assets."

The economy's long-term shift toward knowledge-based jobs and away from physical labor is another force that might be increasing the rolls of older workers. Already, older employees with higher levels of education seem to be playing a major role in the trend, and some say the psychological rewards rather than money are what motivate them.

"It's interesting work," said Feyk, who has worked at Aerospace Corp. for most of the last 45 years. "It's new challenges."

Feyk helps oversee classified work of contractors on military space and missile systems. "The things that we do, the projects that we look at, have never been done before." Still, it is unclear how far the trend toward working later in life will go. Society is much richer than the days when people worked almost until death, and early retirement continues to hold some of its allure.

Older employees can find themselves scrambling between different jobs, as companies rise and fall and long-term relationships between employer and employee become rarer.

When Jules Lippert's business of selling prebuilt homes went bust in the 1980s, he loaded a van with antiques and spent the next 16 years selling his wares at trade shows around the United States.

Finally wearying of the road, he tried to shift his business to EBay. A couple of years ago, he took up his neighbor's offer to train interviewers for market research.

Now 76, Lippert still works as many as 35 hours a week: "As long as I'm in good health, I see no reason to retire," said the suburban Philadelphia resident. "I would sit around and vegetate."

At the same time, money "is important," said the grandfather of seven. "My wife and I could exist on our combined Social Security plus our IRA, but it would not leave a lot of room for extras."

Employers will play a big role in deciding whether baby boomers' visions of an industrious old age turn out to be fantasy.

Some companies rely on the institutional memory and experience of longtime employees.

"We encourage people to stay with the company," Aerospace spokesman David L. Jonta said. "We have a lot of people that do, and we value that expertise."

Hospitals and other employers struggling with labor shortages are also known to court older employees by offering flexible schedules and extra leeway for time off.

Still, such companies "quite frankly are ahead of the curve," said Deborah R. Russell, director of workforce issues at AARP.

After interviewing 400 employers, researchers at Boston College recently concluded that many companies were only "lukewarm" about accommodating older workers who might be willing to stay on the job a few extra years.

Which doesn't make a lot of sense to Feyk.

"Somehow we're going to have to get people over 65 into productive work, because there aren't going to be enough of the young people to support them," he said.

He is not the only member of his family who feels that way. Feyk's wife, he noted, recently got a job as a church organist in San Pedro. "She's getting her W-2 right now," he said, adding: "She's just a young thing. She's only 75."





Staying on the payroll

The trend: Americans are now typically retiring at age 62, compared with age 60 in 1997, reversing decades of decline in the retirement age.

What's behind it: As employers scale back pensions and health benefits for retirees, many people cannot afford to retire. Others simply choose to work, saying they would be bored otherwise.

The consequences: By staying in the workforce, older employees generate more spendable income — buoying the economy and contributing additional income taxes. Social Security could also be helped as workers pay into the system for additional years.

Los Angeles Times


Thursday, May 17, 2007


Today, Key Educational Resources released the results of a survey of 400 incoming college freshman on their attitudes, lifestyle and outlook for the future. The survey provides a unique comparison of how attitudes of this year's college-bound freshman differ from those of their boomer parents.

Some highlights include:

• Students are more concerned about the environment and healthcare than their boomer parents

• Overall, this generation is less optimistic that their futures will be bright compared to their parents

• Today's students devote far more energy and time to the college selection process than their boomer parents




CLEVELAND, Ohio – May 16, 2007 – What’s on the mind of the college class of 2011? Making ends meet financially, keeping up with their workload and getting good grades. What did their boomer parents worry about? Surprisingly, making ends meet, grades and their workload. But that’s where the similarity ends.

In a recently completed survey by Key Education Resources, a division of KeyBank, some stark differences emerged in how college-bound students view the world and their place in it. Key asked students planning to attend college this fall how they felt about everything from their futures to which social issues most concern them. Parents of those students were also asked to look back to when they were heading off to college and provide their thoughts.

Of the more than 400 members of the college class of 2011 polled, 18 percent of students said that their number one social concern is the environment while their parents were much more concerned about the job market as they entered college. Twenty-nine percent of parents said it was their top concern, whereas only 11 percent of students today ranked it number one.

The amount of time and energy spent on the college selection and application process has also mushroomed in a generation.

Thirty-six percent of today’s students report spending a lot of time on the process, or that it’s all consuming. Only 12 percent of their parents felt that way about their college planning process. Also, 53 percent of parents said their moms and dads didn’t help them at all in the process, whereas only 9 percent of today’s students said their parents provided no help. But both groups (25-percent) agreed that “making ends meet financially” was their biggest concern upon entering college.

“Clearly, many students and parents feel overwhelmed by the college selection and financing process,” said Rick Vonk, president of Key Education Resources. “But even with all of the information to consider, there’s a way to simplify the process.”

Vonk recommends focusing on three main areas.

Choose appropriate curriculum and get good grades

· The more college preparatory courses you take and the better grades you get, the better the odds you’ll be accepted by your school of choice and land a scholarship.

Decide what you want in a school and let that drive the selection process

· The best college for you is one that suits your specific needs and not necessarily one that lands on some particular ranking or carries a certain prestige. Important criteria to consider – a school’s location and size, the curriculum, campus life, and whether to attend a private, public, or community college. There are many web tools available to help you start the process.

Shop around for the best way to pay for school

· A sound strategy is to apply for scholarships and grants (free money) first. Then look to fill the gap between what your school costs and what you have in hand (grants, scholarships, work study, money from savings, or gifts, or from a campus job) with federal or private loans. Each will offer different borrower benefits and repayment plans that may be more or less attractive to you.

The survey also found students today are less optimistic than their parents were about having bright futures (42 percent vs. 63 percent), yet they still believe they will be able to accomplish their dreams. They are also slightly more likely to choose a job they’re passionate about over one that simply pays well (91 percent vs. 86 percent).

When it comes to the most important people in their lives – mothers and fathers were at the top of the list for both generations, but we’ve seen a rise in the importance of siblings and a decline in the importance of significant others over the years. Today’s students said their siblings are the most important people in their lives, while parents said their significant other was the most important person in their life when entering college.

What hasn’t changed from one generation to the next is what would give students the greatest fulfillment in their lives after graduation. Building a strong family, service to others, and marriage topped the list for both groups.

For more information on the survey or tips on how to save for college, visit

About Key Education Resources

Key Education Resources, the education financing arm of KeyBank, is one of the largest education loan providers in the U.S. In business for more than 50 years, Key Education Resources provides federal education loans, private loans, monthly payment plans and education consolidation loans for students and families in K-12, undergraduate, graduate and professional education institutions. For more information, visit

About KeyCorp

Cleveland-based KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $93 billion. Key companies provide investment management, retail and commercial banking, consumer finance, and investment banking products and services to individuals and companies throughout the United States and, for certain businesses, internationally. For more information, visit

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Note to Editors: For up-to-date company information, media contacts and facts and figures about Key lines of business, visit our Media Newsroom at

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Where the Millionaires Live

Where the Millionaires Live
The number of U.S. millionaire households has risen to a record high
of 9.3 million as of mid-2006, up 5 percent from 2005, according to
TNS Global's annual Affluent Market Research Program.

The millionaires' mean net worth, not including their primary
residence, is $2,167,167 with investable assets of $1,442,841. Their
median age is 58 and 45 percent are retired.

Forty-six percent of millionaire households own investment real
estate such as a second home, third home, rental properties, and
undeveloped land. Thirty-four percent have a first mortgage on these
residences and 25 percent have second mortgages on these additional

The TNS study identified 10 counties with the highest number of
millionaire residents.

Los Angeles County with 268,136
Cook County, Ill., 171,118
Orange County, Calif., 116,157
Maricopa County, Ariz., 113,414
San Diego County, Calif., 102,138
Harris County, Texas, 99,504
Nassau County, N.Y., 79,704
Santa Clara County, Calif., 74,824
Palm Beach County, Fla., 71,221
King County, Ore., 68,390

Source: Associated Press (05/01/07)