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Working Past Retirement: Some Want To, Some Have To

Evening Edition

Above: Baby boomers continue to wash over America's cultural landscape, even as they enter their golden years. The sheer force of numbers gave the post World War II generation the power to change society for decades. As part of our Envision series on Aging in San Diego, KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson looks at boomers who are putting off retirement's promise of a life of leisure.

— "See what I did. Notice the back is straight, I'm not leaning, I'm not pulling this way," said Bill Moore as he talked to a client at North Park's Stern Gym. He's a teacher with a champion's pedigree.

"Alright, one, good. Hit my chin. Two. Three. Good," said Moore.

Moore won body building competitions in his 40s and 50s. That got the former Marine's picture on the wall of Stern's Gym in North Park. He's still working at 70.

"You can only play golf sometime so long," said Moore. "You can only fish so long. Then it becomes boring. Then when it becomes boring what are you going to do."

Aired 11/21/11 on KPBS News.

Baby boomers continue to wash over America's cultural landscape, even as they enter their golden years. Many are putting off retirement's promise of a life of leisure.

Bill Moore at Stern's Gym in North Park where he trains clients
Enlarge this image

Above: Bill Moore at Stern's Gym in North Park where he trains clients

Moore wants to stay active. Life has been good, but not so good that he can quit working.

"I have savings," said Moore. "I never had a pension. So I've got to continue, as long as I can walk, talk, breath, I'm gonna be working. But that's not the important thing. The important thing is I love what I do."

Moore is part of a growing segment of America's aging population. The Pew Research Center finds a quarter of the people living past retirement age are still part of the work force. Nearly half are working because they need the money. The economy gets some of the credit.

"We wouldn't see that phenomenon if it wasn't for the recent market downturns and lack of growth in the last five years," said Tom Warschauer, San Diego State University professor emeritus.

That's backed up in a new Wells Fargo poll. The survey found a quarter of middle class Americans said they'll need to work until they are 80 in order to be comfortable in retirement. Nearly three quarters of those polled said they expect to work past retirement. And, more than half think they'll have to work past retirement to make ends meet. A number of factors are at play, but two of them stand out. First, there's no mandatory retirement age.

"The net result is that's its entirely the option of the individual. Secondly as I mentioned, life expectancy has gone up substantially," said Warschauer.

People who think they're going to live longer, plan to work longer, according to Warschauer.

Richard Schulman is a 71 year old computer software salesman and consultant. He's sold imaging programs to scores of governments agencies interested in fighting wildfires. San Diego County uses one of his systems.

Richard Schulman outside the San Diego County Administration Building
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Above: Richard Schulman outside the San Diego County Administration Building

"Here's an example of 3-D," said Schulman. "This product, you can get a 3D rotation, it's actually a very dynamic product. It also will print images, it will print whatever's on the screen. It will output them in a computer format, to back to headquarters."

As the Pew Research Center discovered, just over half of those working past retirement do it because they want to.

"I get the satisfaction of knowing I'm doing a good job," said Schulman. "I get lots of feedback and I seem to be part of the team and needed. And the clients are loyal for that."

The retired Naval commander said financial planning, a modest lifestyle and and some luck affords him the freedom to decide about work.

"It's all a matter of resources, of desire and it's what you like to do," said Schulman. "My wife Nina, always gives me constant feedback, and says, 'you enjoy what your doing. You don't need to stop. Just make sure you're balanced.' And that's what I do."

Most workers thinking about their retirement want what Schulman has. The Pew Research Center said 60 percent plan to work for pay after retirement because they want to. Thirty percent expect to work for pay after retirement because they have to.

Comments

Avatar for user 'rdl114'

rdl114 | November 21, 2011 at 1:15 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Hello... thought I would introduce our Australian friends to
boomersrememberwhen.com, a site that wants to hear from all baby boomers
from around the globe who have a brief first-person story to tell about
growing up, coming of age, or how being a boomers has informed your life.
Check the ABOUT tab. Thanks very much.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 21, 2011 at 3:59 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Republicans want middle and lower income seniors to have to work well into their 70s.

They don't deny this, and you can find many prominent Republicans on the record noting this with a simple internet search.

Why seniors tend to vote Republican is beyond me.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 21, 2011 at 4:02 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

By the way, you can bet your sweet hiney that all the "work til your 75" crowd of Republican political elites will be retired and sitting on big fat cushy savings WELL before they are ven close to reaching 70.

It's the typical, "I have mine so screw the rest of you" mentality from the party who has brought America's entire economic system to the brink simply to protect tax cuts for millionaires.

It's disgusting.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | November 25, 2011 at 3:35 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

If I could afford it I'd retire now. But then who wouldn't? I do wonder what life in retirement will be like. Jobs don't pay like they used to, cost of living rises, health issues and such. We are witnessing a slow degrade of our very lives.

( | suggest removal )