Many older Americans fear they will be working well into their 60s because they didn't save enough to retire. Millions more wish they were that lucky: Without full-time jobs, they are short of money and afraid of what lies ahead.
Deborah Kallick was a professor of biomedical chemistry at the University of Minnesota until she ventured into the private sector in 2000 with a job in genome research. She is now one of more than four million Americans aged 55 to 64 who can't find full-time work. That number has nearly doubled in five years, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures in October.
Ms. Kallick, 60 years old, has been unemployed since 2007 and lives in the Northern California home of an ex-boyfriend. She has run out of unemployment insurance, used up most of her retirement savings and is indebted to relatives and credit-card companies.
A good job could settle her accounts, she said. Until then, Ms. Kallick relies on generosity, occasional consulting work and the sale of sweaters, purses and other possessions on eBay.A brief search of LinkedIn (with login) will reveal that she actually became a tenured professor and then left for the biotech field. One presumes that she may be regretting leaving a relatively secure position; I think she's to be commended for a gutsy call. The article goes on to describe that the average tenure of unemployment for people 55 to 64 is 56.6 weeks of unemployment. There's also a #chemjobs-aspect to this in that Ms. Kallick is in the 8.4% of chemists 60-69 (the highest age decile next to the 70+ group) who are listed as unemployed.
"It is very hard to work through this and learn to be calm and happy day to day," said Ms. Kallick, who never married. "It has taken a lot of strength and courage to learn to do that."
That's shocking. That also indicates that the typical advice for having an emergency fund of six months is probably 50% too small, especially for older people. (Although, one notes from the article, that for people older than 20 (that is, darn near everyone), the average length of unemployment is longer than 26 weeks. Uh-oh.)
Best wishes to us all.