Many Americans Retire Early Due To Losing Job


A recent nationwide Harris Poll found that 26% of seniors who retired sooner than they planned did so because they lost their jobs and couldn’t find work with comparable pay. That finding underscores the importance of saving for retirement from an early age rather than waiting until later in life to start ramping up your IRA or 401(k).


The fact is, we never know when our careers might come to an end, whether it’s due to poor health or unexpectedly being fired or laid off from our jobs. If we rely too heavily on being able to save in our late 50s or early-to-mid 60s, we risk coming up short financially – especially if we are forced to retire early.

We know that many of my clients and readers are already retired, so this topic might not be relevant at this stage. However, if you are already retired, this friendly reminder could be very helpful for your children and younger friends. So please read on and feel free to share.

When you put off saving for retirement, you lose out on years of valuable investment growth and compounding in your IRA or 401(k) that can really boost your balance. But that’s not the only risk associated with waiting to save. If you neglect your savings until you’re older but lose your job and are forced to exit the workforce 5, 10, or 15 years sooner than anticipated, it could really wreak havoc on your long-term financial plan and your lifestyle.

Imagine you neglect your nest egg during your 20s, 30s, and 40s so you can focus on other goals like paying off your student debt, saving for a home, keeping up with your mortgage and socking money away for your kids’ college.

Let’s say you have every intention of setting aside $1,000 per month in a 401(k) beginning at age 50 all the way until age 67. Assuming you invest that money at an average annual return of 7%, you’ll be looking at an ending savings balance of around $370,000. That might seem impressive, but it’s probably well below what you’ll need.


Yet consider what happens if you get laid off from your job at age 62 and can’t manage to find another comparable one? If your savings window is slashed by five years, you’ll be looking at only about $215,000 in savings instead of $370,000. And that would make a huge difference for your retirement.


That’s why saving from a young age is a much safer bet. If you contribute steadily to a retirement plan over a longer time, your finances won’t take as nasty a hit if you’re let go from a job and find yourself forced into unemployment – and early retirement – much sooner than planned.

The older you are when you get laid off, the harder it becomes to find a replacement job. You’d think your years of experience would work in your favor, but unfortunately many companies are hesitant to hire older workers, as they’d rather not invest in someone who’s likely to retire within a few years. And while it’s illegal to discriminate against a job candidate based on age alone, the reality is that it happens all the time.


And it gets even worse. A recent study by the Urban Institute and Propublica found that over half of workers over the age of 50 will at some point be jettisoned from their jobs – fired outright or forced to resign (jumping before they’re pushed). And get this – only 10% will ever again be compensated at the level of the jobs they left. That’s shocking, or it should be!

Furthermore, while federal law makes it illegal to ask someone’s age in a job interview or to discriminate against anyone based on their age, employers can make pretty accurate educated guesses how old you are. And if you’re over 40 and lose your job, that can be very bad news.

According to a recent research report from the University of California Irvine, workers over 40 are only about half as likely, or less, to get a job offer than younger applicants – if employers know or can guess their age. Wow!


Put differently, when hiring managers could determine an applicant’s likely age, those over 40 were between 46% to 65% less likely to get a job offer than those under 40. Double wow!

The same study found that older workers who lose their jobs – especially those over 50 and don’t want to retire – are likely to have to work as independent contractors. The share of people working as independent contractors, freelancers and other categories of “on-call” workers who were ages 55 to 64 increased to 22.9% in 2017 from 18.8% in 2005. For people aged 65 and up, the figure rose to 14.1% from 8.5%.


The bottom line is that employers are looking for younger and younger workers, even though it is illegal to discriminate by age. It’s increasingly happening anyway. That means just about anyone can lose their job unexpectedly much earlier than they had planned. Thus, it is imperative to start saving for retirement as early as possible.



Posted 02-20-2020 1:21 AM by Gary D. Halbert