Time for Baby Boomers to Retire? Don't Count on It


This year, the first members of the baby boomer generation will come of age for retirement. But as this milestone passes, a recent survey suggests many feel they will have to work at least four years longer than they originally planned, due to the recent economic downturn. It appears the Great Recession may have tarnished the boomer's golden years forever.

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, number 77 million and represent about 37% of the nation's total population aged 16 or older. According to an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) survey of CPA financial planners, 79% said they had at least one boomer client who has delayed retirement because of the economy. When asked how many extra years those boomer clients expected to work, the CPAs said 32.3% responded that they needed 1 to 3 years, 39.3% said 4 to 6 years, 9.8% said 7 to 10 years, and 3.7% said more than 10 years.
This grim view of retirement lingers -- despite the fact that many people are feeling more confident about the financial markets and the rebounding U.S. economy. What may be even more depressing, however, is that the people who have the financial assets to make them relatively well-prepared for retirement still feel that they will have to work additional years into retirement. The CPAs surveyed have clients who typically have between $500,000 and $5 million in assets. So if those folks feel they will have to work more years before retiring, it's hard to fathom what people without such nest eggs may be facing.

"Boomers have been scarred by the economic turmoil of the past few years and face complex challenges going forward," said Clark M. Blackman II, chair of the AICPA's Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee in a statement announcing the survey results. "While more optimistic about the markets, many Boomers remain uncertain about the U.S. economy and their own situations as they contend with job loss – their own and their children's – lower home values and rising education costs."

The one thing boomers seem to be certain about is that they'll need to get a little more silver if they hope to enjoy their golden years.