NEW JERSEY BOOMERS WORRIED ABOUT RETIREMENT, FINANCIAL SECURITY, AND THE STATE’S FUTURE

On November 17-20, 2011 Pulse Opinion Research conducted a survey of 1,000 Employed Adults aged 47-65 years (Baby Boomers) in New Jersey.

How worried are you about the possibility of losing your job?

21% Very worried
32% Somewhat worried
30% Not very worried
15% Not at all worried
2% Not sure

How worried are you about your ability to be competitive in the job market should you lose your job?

34% Very worried
32% Somewhat worried
22% Not very worried
11% Not at all worried
1% Not sure

How worried are you about the future of Social Security?

54% Very worried
31% Somewhat worried
11% Not very worried
3% Not at all worried
1% Not sure

How worried are you about the future of your industry?

25% Very worried
32% Somewhat worried
27% Not very worried
16% Not at all worried
1% Not sure

How worried are you about the New Jersey’s economic future?

44% Very worried
38% Somewhat worried
15% Not very worried
2% Not at all worried
1% Not sure

How worried are you about age-related health issues?

39% Very worried
37% Somewhat worried
20% Not very worried
3% Not at all worried
0% Not sure

How worried are you about the health of older family members?

39% Very worried
36% Somewhat worried
18% Not very worried
6% Not at all worried
1% Not sure

Do you care for an elderly or disabled parent or older relative?

27% Yes
71% No
2% Not sure

Are you worried that your family will not be able to care for you when you are older?

48% Yes
39% No
14% Not sure

Are the upcoming holidays a source of anxiety about the future?

24% Yes
69% No
17% Not sure

Looking to your future, how well do you think your income and investments will satisfy your needs?

13% Very well
35% Not very well
34% Adequately
11% Very poorly
7% Not sure

In the past five years, have you lowered your expectations about your future financial security, raised your expectations about your future financial security or has there been no change in your expectations?

67% You lowered your expectations
10% You have raised your expectations
21% There has been no change
3% Not sure

In the past five years, have you lowered your expectations about your future financial security, raised your expectations about your future financial security or has there been no change in your expectations?

67% You lowered your expectations
10% You have raised your expectations
21% There has been no change
3% Not sure

[Answered Only By Those Who Plan to Move] Are you planning to move to another state when you retire because of the cost of living in New Jersey, to be closer to out-of-state relatives, high property taxes, the weather, or is it something else?

56% The cost of living in New Jersey
6% You want to be closer to relatives
29% High property taxes
4% The weather
4% Something else
1% Not sure

[Answered Only By Those Who Plan to Move] Are you planning to move to another state when you retire because of the cost of living in New Jersey, to be closer to out-of-state relatives, high property taxes, the weather, or is it something else?

56% The cost of living in New Jersey
6% You want to be closer to relatives
29% High property taxes
4% The weather
4% Something else
1% Not sure

As the Baby Boomer generation approaches its golden years, the future doesn’t look particularly sunny -- especially in New Jersey, according to a new Kean University / New Jersey Speaks poll.

Anxieties about the Great Recession, job security, retirement, health care, and the high cost of living in New Jersey have Garden State boomers on edge, the poll found. The poll surveyed 1,000 employed New Jersey residents between the ages of 47 and 65, a cohort that encompasses the oldest and youngest of the baby boom generation.

“The results show that baby boomers are very concerned about the outlook for the economy in New Jersey and the nation as a whole,” said Christopher Donoghue, an assistant professor and coordinator of Sociology and Anthropology at Kean University. “Economic instability is a recurring theme among respondents.”

Among those concerns is the economic stability of New Jersey. Eighty-two percent said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about the state’s economic future. And a substantial minority -- 45 percent -- said they plan to move out of New Jersey when they retire. Of that group, 56 percent cited the high cost of living in New Jersey as a reason for moving elsewhere. Twenty-nine percent said high property taxes would drive them from the state in retirement.

Social Security is another area of great concern. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about the future of Social Security as they approach (or already have attained) eligibility for the program. Based on that finding, Dr. Donoghue said, “presidential hopefuls in the upcoming election cycle will do well to focus on ways of solving the projected shortfalls in Social Security.”

And then there’s the aging process, something which the generation that coined the phrase “don’t trust anybody over 30” certainly never contemplated in the 1960s. Seventy-six percent said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about age-related health issues. Sixty-seven percent said they had lowered their expectations about their financial security as they approach retirement. 

Fifty-three percent said they were very worried or somewhat worried about losing their jobs, and 66 percent said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about remaining competitive in the job market. Most respondents, 54 percent, said they planned to retire by the end of 2020. A few, 7 percent, said they do not plan to retire at all.  “The evidence indicates that baby boomers feel the need to keep working, but have anxiety about their ability to do so,” Dr. Donoghue said.

“Baby boomers came of age during the Age of Aquarius, and now they are growing older in the Age of Anxiety,” said Terry Golway, director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics and Policy, which commissioned the survey.

Boomer anxieties are not limited to their own futures. Seventy-five percent said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the health of older family members. Boomers, born in the prosperity and confidence of the post-World War II area, are the children of men and women who lived through the Great Depression and the war, a generation that is slipping away with each passing year. Some 27 percent of respondents said they cared for an older or disabled parent or another older relative. (Males and females responded in about the same numbers to this question – 26 percent of males and 27 percent of females said they cared for an older family member. Thirty-three percent of African American respondents said they cared for an older family member, while 24 percent of white respondents said they did.)

 Despite this litany of worries, some boomers appear to have reason for optimism. Nineteen percent of African-American respondents said they have raised their expectations about their future financial security over the last five years, compared with just 8 percent of whites. Sixty-nine percent of whites said they have lowered their expectations, while 54 percent of black respondents have done the same.

Boomers may be filled with worry, but they are not letting the economy and the aging process ruin the holidays. Some 69 percent of respondents said the upcoming holiday season, sometimes a source of stress, would not be a source of anxiety about the future.

Perhaps they did their shopping already.

The Kean University / New Jersey Speaks survey was conducted Nov. 17-20. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.