2009 has been a challenging year for baby boomers.
What events this last year have most affected your life?
Here are my ideas on the top stories of 2009 for baby boomers:
1. The economic meltdown
Baby boomers were highly impacted by the Great Recession which reduced the value of their investments and their homes.
2. The sluggish economic and job recovery
Boomers are facing difficulties because they've lost their jobs, they're struggling to get back into the workforce, and they face discrimination in looking for jobs because they're older.
3. Retirement delayed
Although the stock market is beginning to pick up, most boomers are planning to work longer. Some will continue working in their current jobs, while others will work part time. Encore jobs, where boomers find work that make a difference, are increasing in popularity.
4. Health care
Health care spending has risen about 2.4 percent faster than GDP since 1970. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project that by 2018 health care spending will be more than $4.3 trillion or $13,100 per resident and account for 20.3 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Congress spent the year undertaking an agonizingly slow debate on what kind of health care reform the nation will get. Boomers, the oldest of whom turn 64 in January, will be significantly impacted by these reforms as they age.
5. Financial industry changes
The Obama administration has offered a plan to overhaul regulation of the financial industry, and, in December, the House approved a bill that would grant the government new powers to split up companies that threaten the economy, create an agency to oversee consumer banking transactions, and provide information about shadow financial markets that have escaped federal oversight. The Senate is debating what it will offer in terms of financial regulatory protections for consumers.
6. Boomer health
The general perception of boomers is that they’re more interested in a healthy diet, exercising, and staying young, so they, therefore, have better health. Not so. Poorer health, more pain, and more trouble doing everyday physical tasks were reported by Americans in their early to mid-50s than what was reported by their older peers at the same age in years past, a Health and Retirement Study showed. The suicide rate among 45 to 54 year olds went up almost 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, according to a study by Centers for Disease Control. Other studies showed boomers have higher rates of alcoholism and substance abuse than other groups.
7. Simpler living
Due to the Great Recession, baby boomers are among the many Americans who are spending less and living more simply.
8. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Baby boomers are losing sons and daughters in these wars as they continue on and on. The billions of dollars being spent are driving the country deeply into debt. This emphasis on war spending makes it difficult to accomplish much needed items on the country’s domestic agenda, such as job programs for young adults and older workers.
9. Credit cards
As consumers continue to struggle in a sluggish economy, credit card companies are finding ways to increase revenues, even for good customers, in response to upcoming legislation that will restrict credit card issuers' ability to raise interest rates on existing balances and impose other consumer protections.
10. Milestones remembered and icons lost
The 40th anniversary of Woodstock and the first landing on the moon reminded baby boomers of their younger days. It brought back memories of activism and the hopes and dreams for changing society. These milestones and the loss of two boomer icons on the same day – Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett – also reminded boomers that they’re getting older and about the many dreams they sought which haven’t been achieved. Among these are health care for all, equality for all, and humane positive workplaces.
What were the top stories for you as a baby boomer in 2009? Let me know your opinions in the Comment section below.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist