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As 'Gen X' Turns 50, Retirement Fears Set In

As Gen-X starts to turn 50, many worry they'll never be able to retire. Credit: Alon/Flickr.com
As Gen-X starts to turn 50, many worry they'll never be able to retire. Credit: Alon/Flickr.com
September 2, 2015

NEW YORK - The first wave of "Generation X" New Yorkers turns 50 this year, and many are panicking about saving enough money for retirement, according to a statewide survey.

Commissioned by AARP, the survey found that Gen Xers are even more worried about retirement savings than are Baby Boomers.

Beth Finkel, state director of AARP New York, said that between the stagnant economy, student debt and the decline of job-based pensions, many people between ages 35 and 50 feel as though they are caught in a real bind.

"They're probably the first generation that is really experiencing this as they go through the workplace," she said. "Earlier generations started to see the writing on the wall - but for them, it's their reality."

Two thirds of the Gen Xers surveyed said the cost of living in New York is so high that they are likely to leave the state once they retire, if they can retire at all.

James Born, 37, an electrician living in Brooklyn with his wife, a small-business owner, said that for his generation, the economy is so tight that it's difficult to imagine saving for retirement, let alone for his daughter's education.

"It feels like it doesn't allow people room for error, or even accident," he said. "It takes very little to become financially submerged - and that's terrifying."

The AARP survey found that 34 percent of Gen Xers and 42 percent of Baby Boomers have no retirement savings account. More than half of people employed by private companies in New York state have no payroll-based pension or 401(k) plan, AARP said, making them 15 times less likely to save for retirement.

In the coming year, Finkel said, New York needs to adopt a payroll-deduction savings plan similar to the state's college savings program, so more workers can secure their futures.

"They could be starting to put money away to secure their own secure retirement," she said. "That would be an amazing gift that the governor and this administration could give us."

In the coming weeks, she said, AARP will release results of localized surveys about retirement savings in six cities around the state.

The AARP survey is online at aarp.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY