"While the issue of jobs is very important to age 50-plus voters, any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year's election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare," says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president. "For these voters, 'retirement security' and 'economic security' are largely the same thing."
The four-legged stool
Only 32 percent of non-retired boomers worry about being able to find full-time employment with benefits, the survey found, despite an economy that has been struggling to create new jobs. They may not be as concerned about job prospects as other voters because the unemployment for their age group is 6.4 percent, roughly two percentage points below the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the economic downturn has taken a toll on their investments and the value of their homes — a major component of boomers' personal wealth. Six of 10 said they're worried about coming up short in their later years, the survey found.
The poll results show that "people in this age group are facing a difficult transition, and they're worried about whether they can do it," says Jacquelyn James of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. "Most people had planned for a three-legged stool that would give them a happy, healthy retirement: a pension, their own savings and Social Security and Medicare.
"But over the past 15 years, pensions have been disappearing, and their investments have been hit hard by the downturn. Now, they're worrying that politicians are not going to continue to support the entitlement programs. That's why some are feeling that they need to add a fourth leg to the stool: continuing to work."