For what has been decades of standard retirement plans, for our parents and grandparents, are not the norm any longer. Use to be that you went to work for a factory, an insurance company, or what have you, you paid into a retirement plan with that company. After about 30 years of working, you would be able to enjoy your twilight years in a relatively good retirement plan. That started changing with the 401K. It became apparent that company retirement plans were not going to be enough as various companies started backing off of their retirement plans they had for employees. So, they needed something to compensate. In steps the 401K. I had something similar to the 401K while I worked for the federal government. I got other benefits as well. Then comes the 2008 world financial crisis. Everything started changing, from home loans, to unemployment to consumer confidence. What was true five years ago, is not true today. If you expect the "good old days" to come back with a job for 30 years with the same company, the same retirement and the same line of benefits, those days are probably gone forever. Despite what some may be telling you, there are not "millions of jobs created or saved" anywhere in the USA. That is a damn lie and one that at least 51% of the population fell for hook, line and sinker.
Why I am discussing what I call the "new retirement" is because of two individuals I know personally and from I have learned from personal research. One man is 28 years old. The woman is 49 years old. The man (I'll call him Dan) was laid off from his aluminum welding job back in June of 2009. He worked for a very large company that fabricates various platforms for ships, planes and semi-tractor trailers. He was making upwards of about $65K a year including all the overtime he could handle. But, that all stopped back in June 2009. He has found sporadic work in his profession since that time. But, he has yet to find a permanent job anywhere. He told me he is going to change professions. He is now a management trainee at a regional fast food restaurant. He works 12-14 hours a day sometimes on a straight salary. He has gone from making $65K a year to 24K a year. Dan went straight to work out of a vocational school to be an aluminum welder. Now, all that training may be for naught. The fastfood company has told him they cannot afford a retirement plan for permanent employees at this time. Dan is worried about his future and with good reason.
The 48 year old woman (we'll call her Donna) was working as an office manager at a large insurance company. She has a degree in management and Donna absolutely loved her job. She worked at this job for 19 years until her and the entire accounts payable office were laid off indefinitely in December 2009 (two weeks before Christmas). Donna and all the people that worked for her were replaced by temps from a temporary worker company. She did not work at this company long enough to get vetted into the retirement plan. That company went bankrupt in March of 2011. So, Donna's 19 years and whatever retirement she was working toward is now gone. Donna takes a few jobs as a bookkeeper. But, it is not near enough for her to support two teenage kids, including one in college. She worries what the future holds for her as she approaches her retirement years. Donna cannot find any kind of permanent job, especially one with retirement. A permanent job with retirement benefits is virtually gone today.
The new retirement is....well, it's what you personally save back from your pay each week. You can't count on companies to offer you a retirement plan as in days of yesteryear. That is not going to come back, I fear. The new retirement consists of people working part-time or moving from company to company in "permanent jobs." Basically, the new retirement of the 21st century is what you, as an individual, do with your paycheck. That social security check is not going to support you in most cases. As more and more of the baby boomers retire from the era of the old retirement days (company retirement, company supported 401K plans, etc.), a new reality is setting in for the Millennials that have replaced the baby boomer generation in the work force. That reality is this isn't their daddy's (mommy's) work era they envisioned for themselves. The daunting reality is that they may well have to work past the retirement years of Mom and Dad in the new retirement of today.