“They taught us how to be financially responsible,” she said. “I feel very grateful.”
If there’s something positive about the pandemic, it’s that it has strengthened some family ties, though not always happily.
In an Edward Jones/Age Wave study, two-thirds of Americans said the pandemic had brought them closer to their family, although only 28 percent of those over 65 “have yet to begin discussing their end-of-life care preferences with anyone at all, including their family.”
With the U.S. economy shrinking by nearly a third and more than 185,000 Americans dying in the pandemic, the sheer grief of the current situation can be overwhelming. It’s arduous for many people to move ahead and process all of the potential effects on families — but for many, the impact on their general prosperity and later years will be profound.
A study in July by the Brookings Institution said that, while the full effects of the pandemic weren’t yet known, the impact was likely to transform retirement for “years, if not decades.”
An extended slump could reduce stock market returns, retirement savings and income, and force many Americans to work longer. “This is the biggest labor market shake-up in a century,” said Ben Harris, a co-author of the Brookings report and a professor at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. “Some 30 percent to 40 percent of lost jobs may not be coming back. What if breadwinners can’t go back to work?”
In addition to the labor market damage, there’s little question that the pandemic has already hurt retirement savers in the past year. More than 60 companies employing more than 100 people have suspended their 401(k) contribution match since the pandemic began, affecting more than a half-million active participants, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Many of them are large employers hit particularly hard by the crisis, including Best Buy, Dell Technologies and Kelly Services.
Not surprisingly, the social disruption — aggravated by job losses, halts in retirement savings and health-related employment interruptions — has created a great deal of financial stress. In a survey published in April by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 88 percent said the crisis was stressing their personal finances. The top three stressors, respondents said, were lack of emergency savings, job security and income fluctuations.
John F. Wasik
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