Boy, am I ever sorry I went to college.
Evidently, if I had called it quits after high school, I could be retired by now. According to a new study, men with college degrees are retiring at an average age of 65.7 while men with only high school diplomas are retiring at an average age of 62.8. The study didn’t say when women retire, which, a few years ago, would have been a great straight line for a joke, but now, frankly, I’m afraid.
I’m thinking this discrepancy in retirement ages is skewed because of all the over-65 college grads still working in Congress, but the article about this study didn’t mention anything about that, either.* (continued below photo)
The article did have some interesting language, though. For instance:
“As more and more Americans delay retirement, it’s those with a college degree who find it easiest to keep working past 65.”
Doesn’t that make it sound like working past 65 is a good thing? In other words, “Congratulations, college grads. Your diplomas entitle you to work longer! Yea!”
WTF? I thought the whole idea was to get a degree and make lots of money so you can retire early. The dream was to be able to quit when you were still young enough to enjoy traveling the world and then relaxing at your hacienda in Mexico, assuming you weren’t murdered by a drug cartel or assaulted by one of the rapists who had not yet illegally immigrated to the U.S.
Yet this report makes it sound like we college grads want to work as long as possible. And that’s not unintentional; apparently we do!
What the hell is wrong with us? Didn’t they teach us anything in college?
Of course, the longer we work, the more financially comfortable our retirement will be, assuming we don’t first die from the stress of having to work with millennials who only speak MBA-ese. Seriously, if I hear one more of these kids talk about disrupting an industry by shifting a paradigm, I’m going to have to circle back and kick them in their low-hanging fruit.
Getting back to this retirement study, it turns out we baby boomers aren’t just in it for the money. “Many older Americans,” the study says, “like the idea of staying engaged by working.”
Forget engaged; in my case, working would be the only way to stay married. If I was sitting around watching TV all day, my wife would divorce me.
But, okay, so college grads want to work until they die. What about their less-educated colleagues? How come they can afford to retire on their 62.8th birthday? They can’t even get Medicare yet!
Well, as you may have guessed, it turns out that they’d like to work longer, but they can’t, because their jobs tend to be more strenuous. The article quotes Craig Copeland, senior research associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute: “It’s much easier to work sitting down at a computer at 65 than in a warehouse.”
Actually, I don’t think sitting down in a warehouse would be any harder than sitting at a computer, but it may be more difficult to get a warehouse sitting job.
I get the point, though. My father, for instance, who distributed meats to stores in the rougher neighborhoods of Bronx and Manhattan, wouldn’t have been able to work much past 65 stepping in and out of a refrigerated truck to deliver cold cuts and bacon. On the other hand, his son will be able to stare at a computer screen and eat cold cuts and bacon until I’m well into my 80s, assuming the cholesterol doesn’t kill me. It’s possible I may not be able to write coherently when I’m that old, but I’ll certainly be able to stare at the screen.
So, to recap: those who can’t afford to retire have to retire, while those who can afford to retire, don’t.
And in case you’re thinking that it has always been that way, you’re wrong, as usual. In the 1970’s, just about everybody retired between 64 and 65 years of age and drove all around America in their RVs and Ford Crown Victorias, which was why there was a gas shortage. In fact, the percentage of Americans over age 65 who are still in the work force now is higher than it’s been since 1962, when people probably kept working just to be close to the fall-out shelter in the company’s basement in case the Russkies dropped the big one.
Fortunately, I, a proud graduate of New York’s city university system (which, back when I attended, was free except for all the parking tickets), have come up with a solution to this disparity in retirement ages: make a mandatory retirement age of 65 for all the college grads in Congress.
That would greatly reduce the number of still-working old people. And wouldn’t you just love to see the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee** playing bingo?
See you soon.