The “American Dream” is Being Prolonged Due to Economic Reasons


For most of us the “American Dream” is still a very real and critically important aspect of our lives and it involves several key components:

  • Retiring in our mid 60’s
  • Having enough money saved in our retirement nest-eggs so that we can continue living the lives in which we’re accustomed.
  • Being physically and mentally healthy enough to spend as much time as possible with our family and close friends.

Our hope is that the “dream” only has to last for about 40 or 50 working years before we can head into the twilight of retirement, and really enjoy the last 20 or 30 years of our lives. However, according to the latest figures, more and more of us are working well over the age of 65 to ensure that we’ll have the kind of savings we’ll need to retire.

The latest data recently released by the government shows that in April of 2017, 19% of Americans age 65 and over were still working. That’s the highest rate since 1962.  That figure was just 10% in 1985, but over the past 32 years, the number has steadily increased. As America grows older and as life expectancy gets longer, some people keep working because they like working and want to stay active.  But the sad reality is that an increasingly growing number of older Americans must continue to work because they cannot afford not to.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, (whose mission is to contribute, encourage, and enhance the development of sound employee benefit programs and sound public policy through objective research and education) reports in its most recent retirement confidence survey that over 25% of workers age 55 or older say they have less than $10,000 in savings and investments.  Close to one third of workers in that age group say they expect to work until at least the age of 70, if they retire at all.

According to the survey

  • Two in three workers (66%) report feeling very or somewhat confident about being able to afford basic expenses in retirement, including 26% who feel very confident.
  • Workers’ confidence in their ability to afford basic expenses is higher than the confidence they report regarding their ability to pay for medical expenses in retirement.
  • 45% of workers are not too or not at all confident they will have enough money for medical expenses in retirement.
  • An even greater share is not too or not at all confident in their ability to pay for long-term care expenses: nearly 6 in 10 (57%) do not feel confident about having enough money for long-term care in retirement

In the retirement survey, many older Americans say they would like to work and need to work but can’t find a job.  The cold, stark fact for the elderly in America is that the unemployment rate for workers age 65 and over was 3.7% in April, and that’s higher than it’s ever been over the last 30 years.  Experts say they expect those figures to continue to rise.