He was Just a Day from Retirement: Unemployment late in a career

After the financial crisis, your retirement savings were cut in half. You’re trying to put your kids through college, you still hope to retire someday, and you’re trying to figure out how to rebuild your life’s savings. And now, to top it all off, you just lost the job you spent the last 30 years pouring your heart and soul into.

What do you do? Is early retirement even an option at this point? How do you even start looking for a job when you’re too valuable, too established, for most companies to afford? Do you take a pay cut? Will you ever retire?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.3% of Americans over 55 are unemployed. This does not include those forced into early retirement or who have given up the search.

A long and successful career plays a large role in a person’s identity. Don’t let the loss of this destroy your psyche. Even if the abrupt end isn’t what you would have chosen, this does not diminish the accomplishments and success you’ve had. A natural response is to want to get right back into work. Be aware that a job search takes time, and results are often slow to materialize. Don’t let early setbacks totally derail you.

Age discrimination does happen, even if it is illegal. Hitting the streets like your fresh out of college looking for a job is not going to work the same for you. However, one of the benefits of being established is your network of contacts. Use them! If you spent 30 years working your way up a company ladder, you’ve probably made some friends along the way.

If all your children are in college or beyond, you don’t have child rearing responsibilities. This is a huge selling point. You are extremely flexible and can work long hours, and employers can’t always find that.

If you can afford early retirement, keep the option on the table. Is your spouse working? There are a variety of ways to supplement your savings, from working a part time job to using the equity you’ve built up over the years. Consider all your options and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Many others have or are going through the same thing.

Additional Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics Unemployment by age: http://bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea10.htm

EarlyRetirement.org: http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f28/more-people-forced-into-er-and-early-social-security-51544.html

The Washington Independent ‘Too Young Not to Work but Too Old to Work’: http://washingtonindependent.com/87333/too-young-not-to-work-but-too-old-to-work

The New York Times Unemployed, Maybe Homeless, and Starting Over After Age 55: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/16/jobs/16jmar.htmlj

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