When it comes to building wealth though, your 50s are the prime of your life - a period when you have a chance to emerge from debt, enjoy your peak earning years and start to see your investments make a serious contribution to your net worth. This projection can also help you start to think seriously about the pros and cons of retiring early or working longer to achieve the maximum annual benefit. Reassess your retirement goals In addition to Social Security, look at your other retirement savings and see how much income they project to provide. Use catch-up retirement saving opportunities Looking at your projected Social Security benefits and your savings accounts relative to your goals may tell you that you have some catching up to do. Fortunately, the government gives you some catch-up opportunities in the form off additional tax-deferred retirement contributions to 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA) plans that you can make once you turn 50. At that age, you are probably still more than a decade away from retirement, and still have an investment time horizon of some 30 or so years stretched out ahead of you. Update your will If you first made a will when you started your family, you might find things are radically different by the time you turn 50. Don’t let that make you feel old - just look at the discounts available, and think of it as an advantage you’ve earned. Eligibility is often set at age 50, and with free checking getting harder to find these days, signing up for one of these accounts can be another advantage of getting older. This is prime time.
“Genius clubs” to channel older workers’ talents. Mandatory retirement — at 80. A “dynamic” work/life path, instead of today’s linear path. The end of the expectation of rising pay as you age. Volunteering: the new status symbol. Unions for older workers. These are some of the fascinating forecasts I’ve just heard regarding the future of work for Americans over 50.
To help set the scene, let me share what Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta and co-chair of The Shift Commission on Work, Workers and Technology, told the Milken Institute Global Conference I recently attended in Los Angeles: “As much as we like to talk about millennials, the future of work is much older.” By 2024, his Shift Commission report notes, nearly one-quarter of the workforce is projected to be 55 or older — more than double the share in 1994.
What’s more, falling fertility rates and tighter immigration rules mean U.S. employers will likely need to hire and keep older workers just to get the job done in coming decades, according to Andrew Scott, author of The 100-Year Life. As MIT AgeLab Director Joseph Coughlin said at the Milken Institute Global Conference: “We will need older workers to do the work.”
In addition, “workers 65+ will be attractive to employers because they use Medicare for their primary insurance, reducing benefit costs for employers,” say futurists Katherine LY Green, of Green Consulting Group, and John Mahaffie and Jennifer Jarratt, founders of Leading Futurists. (The trio combined forces for their Next Avenue predictions and provided them in writing.)
As Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute for the Future of Aging, has written: “Older people have so much to offer as workers, colleagues and mentors. It is in the business community’s self-interest to recruit, train, promote and retain them.” Problem is, Irving notes, right now, “Only a few companies are doing so.”
That will change, especially in 10 years or so, according to the futurists and Big Thinkers who shared their visions with me.
The key to employment for workers 50+ going forward, say Green, Mahaffie and Jarratt, is “anticipatory careering.” That means, they say, being mindful about if, how and when your skills might become obsolete; anticipating emerging jobs and careers you can transition into; and using your time, money and energy to create a balanced working life that spans age 18 to 80.
Here are 15 forecasts for the future of work for Americans over 50, split by time period:
In the next 5 years
Many 50+ workers will delay retirement a few years or work part-time in retirement for extra income, say Green, Mahaffie and Jarratt. “There’s a shift in cultural expectations about when to retire, as it becomes increasingly clear that funding 20 to 30 extra years on a fixed income is both uncertain and risky,” they note. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32% of Americans age 65 to 74 will be working by 2022, up from about 18% today.
American corporations will greatly expand job flexibility options to keep valuable boomer and Gen X employees, says Lawrence R. Samuel, author of “Aging in America.” Increasingly, people over 50 will decide when, and how much, they want to work, and employers will adapt to their wishes.