Nearly half of African-Americans who are 50 or older—49 percent—say they will be forced to delay their retirement if the economy doesn’t improve, according to a survey from the American Association of Retired Persons released this week. Forty-one percent said they would wait five or more years, but a staggering 13 percent say they won’t ever be able to retire.
"This survey paints a picture of older African-American workers who are coming to terms with a tough economy," said Lois Wagh Aronstein, the AARP’s New York State director. "While older African-Americans would like to enjoy retirement, for an alarmingly large number, this is a dream delayed or slipping out of reach."
In all, this is terrifying news. Blacks, who have been particularly injured by America’s recent unemployment problem and housing crisis, are now suffering financially not just into retirement, but up until their final years. And because poverty is directly correlated with early deaths, it’s no wonder African-Americans die at a younger age than their white counterparts.
Other frightening statistics from the study include the fact that less than one third of Black seniors believe they have health coverage that matches their needs, and a full two-thirds are worried about how they’re going to maintain financial security in retirement. What’s more, 48 percent of respondents said they’d had trouble paying their electric bill in the past year.
Exacerbating all these concerns about the economy in general is that the Republican Party is currently gunning for benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid, on which many African-Americans rely for basic medical coverage. If those are decimated, a whole bunch of Black seniors may be in trouble when they get ill or have an accident. It’s no wonder 72 percent of them say they’re concerned about being financially devastated in the event of a large health care expense.
"It is clear that the great recession has taken its toll on everyone and many African-Americans will find themselves having to work longer to keep up with rising health care costs and financial insecurity," said Aronstein. "The end result is that their job is essential to the quality of their life. With many older African-Americans facing financial challenges and having to work longer, workforce development will be critical to helping these mature workers update their skills so that they can stay relevant in the workforce."
Image: Mario Tama/Getty Images
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