'Evening News' Paints Late Retirement as Hardship

    Many baby boomers are planning a “late” retirement and CBS “Evening News” thinks that’s a problem. The June 12 report led viewers to believe boomers were being forced to work into and past retirement age, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.


     “The 78 million baby boomers are starting to think about retirement, but for many of them, that’s all they’ll be able to do. Think about it. Two new reports out today show many will have to retire much later than they thought,” said anchor Katie Couric. “While boomers may be better educated and better paid than their parents, they’re not necessarily better off.”


     CBS used a liberal think tank’s study and quoted two liberal experts, but left out data refuting that conclusion. According to a May 21 story in USA Today, baby boomers are actually much better off than younger generations. People aged 55-59 are $200,000 wealthier than their counterparts aged 35-39.


     “Younger generations now delay the start of wealth accumulation,” wrote USA Today reporter Dennis Cauchon. According to Cauchon’s article, the Fed lists age 57 as the year of peak income.


     The CBS report offered very little evidence that this trend of later retirement is the crisis Couric made it out to be. CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes pointed to a 61-year-old Georgia public relations executive Harry Hollingsworth, who doesn’t plan to retire until he is 70.


     “To be able to walk off into the sunset at 65 and say ‘Sayonara’ is not in my future,” said Hollingsworth. But, Hollingsworth told CBS he is choosing not to retire yet because he “doesn’t think he would be happy just sitting around at home,” not because of financial hardship.


     “A new study by the Brookings Institution finds baby boomers like Hollingsworth are less eager to leave the workforce than their parents were, while the average boomer plans to retire from their full-time job at age 63,” said Cordes. “Nearly 80 percent say they’ll work on a part-time basis well beyond that,” she added without explaining that Brookings is a liberal think tank.


     An Associated Press story said the U.S. Census Bureau reported men 65 and older still in the labor force was at 19 percent, up from 16 percent in the 1980s, but still much lower than the nearly 50 percent from 1950, suggesting this isn’t the crisis CBS portrayed.


     Cordes only other example included Carol Spriggs, a 59-year part-time employee who retired from the federal court system at 55. However, the minimum age one can draw Social Security is age 62, suggesting Spriggs retired seven years early – hardly the conventional dilemma facing baby boomers.


     “For many boomers however, working longer will be less a choice than an economic necessity,” said Cordes. “Boomers were more likely than their parents to get divorced and less likely to have children, giving them a smaller safety net in an age when seniors live longer and pay more for health care.”


     Yet, Cordes neglected to correlate rising longevity with the potential for increased time in the labor force.


     The CBS story only offered comment from the William Frey of the liberal Brookings Institute and Steve Slon, the editor of the left-wing AARP’s publication “AARP The Magazine.”


     However, Jim Martin of the seniors advocacy group The 60plus Association saw things differently, “I’ve read some excerpts and my first reaction is ‘Nonsense, absolute baloney, bunkum and balderdash.’”


     Martin told the Business & Media Institute baby boomers are working because it provides additional income for things like trips and gifts for grandchildren and “because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and well-being.”


     Martin also mentioned legislation that overwhelming passed in Congress in 2000 that repealed the Social Security Earnings Limit giving seniors more of an incentive to work and not taxing them $1 for every $3 earned, which may have contributed to the increase.