We will be working through retirement

Senior couple sitting at a laptop

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Here's an unsettling question that many people are asking: Does this recession mean there's no more retirement? Will people have to keep working into their 70's and 80's because they can't save enough money? Our economics correspondent Chris Farrell believes the answer is yes. Chris, how do you see this coming about?

Chris Farrell: Oh I think this is going to be a big change, a change that will take time to unfold and actually become part of our everyday toolkit and expectations. But think about it this way, Scott: Whenever we talk about retirement planning, we talk about well, you know, how much are you going to have in stocks, and how much are you going to have in bonds, and what's your asset allocation, and how much of your salary are you saving every year? Well, you know what? Those things matter, but what we're really going to be talking about is, what skills do you have? Where's the job growth in the future? But what I think the recession has done, it's brought the discussion to an end. Cause there's no way you're going to be able to save enough to maintain your standard of living and not work in your golden years.

Jagow: Chris, you're destroying my motor home fantasy.

Farrell: Hahaha! I can just see you -- cap on top, on your head, you know, driving down the road, yeah! OK, now, I don't want to completely destroy your dream, Scott. I really don't. Now, what you might be doing is only working part-time. You might be only working part of the year. You're going to be working part-time, you're going to be working flex time, you might be working from home. You might work a couple of months of the year. But work is going to be part of your retirement savings plan. You can still have your motor home, Scott, you really can still have your motor home -- but as part of your savings. Rather than this being a message of despair, by the way, this is a message of you're going to continue to earn an income. You're going to make some money. And so you're going to be able to afford to gas up that motor home of your's. And cause otherwise, I don't know Scott, I'm not so sure you're going to be able to.

Jagow: Well Chris, I can buy this whole scenario of working longer, and maybe part-time and flex and all that. But what about health insurance, which is so critical at that time in people's lives?

Farrell: It's very critical. And right now, that's the big barrier to what I'm discussing. And that's where health care reform becomes absolutely critical. I think the pressure for health care reform will grow. And this is just one more factor that is putting pressure on government to say the status quo when it comes to health insurance is no longer acceptable.

Jagow: All right. Our economics correspondent, Chris Farrell. Thank you.

Farrell: Thank you.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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