Amid well-publicized reports that older workers needed to stay on the job because of the crisis, the number of U.S. workers claiming Social Security retirement benefits actually rose substantially from 2008 to 2009. The authors maintain that job loss has been the culprit, leading to premature retirement, and while this trend may have been less noticed, it is perhaps the more significant outcome of the crisis.
Coile and Levine examine the three major characteristics of the recession thought to influence retirement behavior: decline in the stock market, reduced housing values, and a weak labor market. The authors find that lower home prices did not actually affect retirement behavior but that the decline in the stock market did lead some workers to delay retirement, while a weakened labor market actually forced more older workers with fewer skills into retirement. As a result, these early retirees, who rely on Social Security, face a lifetime of lower benefits.
The legacy of recessions is that those most in need usually are last to reap the benefits of an economic recovery. While the lion's share of media coverage after the economic downturn of 2008–09 has gone to the plight of older workers who remain employed, Courtney Coile and Phillip Levine examine the effects of the economic crisis on all workers approaching retirement age. Some of their findings are counterintuitive and will surprise many analysts and readers.
In particular, they shine a light on lesser-skilled workers forced into early retirement—a number estimated at 378,000 workers. These workers will be forced into early involuntary retirement, drawing from Social Security sooner and receiving lower retirement income.
This important book provides a complete picture of older workers today, how they will transition into retirement, and what we can do to assist them as the recession persists.
Courtney C. Coile is the Class of 1966 Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Wellesley College, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI). She serves as an editor of the Journal of Pension Economics and Finance and has published numerous articles on retirement behavior.
Phillip B. Levine is the Catherine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor in the Department of Economics at Wellesley, an NBER research associate, a research affiliate of the National Poverty Center, and a member of NASI. From 1996 to 1997, he served as a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers. His publications include an undergraduate econometrics textbook and Sex and Consequences: Abortion, Public Policy, and the Economics of Fertility (Princeton, 2004).
"Guaranteed to make blood boil." —Janet Maslin, New York Times
In Michael Lewis's game-changing bestseller, a small group of Wall Street iconoclasts realize that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders. They band together—some of them walking away from seven-figure salaries—to investigate, expose, and reform the insidious new ways that Wall Street generates profits. If you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you.
Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.
Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.