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Financial Woes Worsening For Seniors

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Seniors continue to be hard hit by the current economic turmoil, a series of new studies show. Here are some of the findings:

  • Poverty: More than six million people 65 and up live in poverty, according to new calculations released yesterday from the Census Bureau. That means that nearly 16% of seniors are currently living in poverty — an increase from the 9% that the Census Bureau previously estimated.  (The poverty rate in 2006 was an estimated 9.4%.)
  • Hunger: One out of every 11 Americans 50 and older is at risk of hunger — up nearly 80% since 2001, according to an analysis by the AARP Foundation.  Older African Americans and Hispanics were the hardest hit, having twice the risk of whites, with those living in the South and West most at risk. Rates were worst in Mississippi, where 13.7% of 50 – 59 year olds were at risk, followed by New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama and North Carolina.
  • Unemployment: The rate of long-term unemployment — defined as those people who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more — for workers 55 and older is currently 52.9 weeks, compared to just 37.3 weeks for workers under 55, according to data from AARP released last week.  What’s more, 55% of unemployed workers 55 and up have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, compared to just 42% of workers under 55.

“These new numbers only reinforce what AARP and AARP Foundation hear from real people every day: older Americans are struggling to make ends meet,” Jo Ann Jenkins, president of the AARP Foundation, writes.  “Whether they are trying to put healthy food on their table, pay their latest pharmacy bill or maintain a safe home, the struggling economy is holding them back.”

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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.