When the Fed raised short-term interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade a few weeks ago, it was careful to cite statistics to justify what is widely perceived as a painstaking decision. But while figures don’t necessarily lie, it’s fair to say they can be the last refuge of scoundrels and economists. (You can readily rely on the weasel word “appropriate” to show up in Fed news conferences and press releases.)
In holding to its dual mandate, the Fed Board of Governors concluded our economy is robust enough to support a rate raise. But what they’ve talked less about publicly is a conspicuous trend which conflicts with an ostensibly rosy employment picture.
According to a November 5, 2015 study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve bank, one particular group is not faring well in our post-recession environment – women over fifty.
In 2006, before the country got whacked by a recession, less than a quarter of women in this group found themselves unemployed for longer than six months. But six years later, according to a recent New York Times article, that number had increased to half.
There may be multiple factors behind the trend. Some women encounter difficulty re-entering the workforce after taking time off to raise children. But many are facing challenges directly related to the recession. While theoretically the Great Recession ended over six years ago, employment for those who lost their jobs in 2007-2009 was much more elusive, with hiring not really rebounding till 2013-2014.
Women who were old enough to be established in the careers now face loss of job contacts after an extended absence or find it hard to explain their long period of joblessness (which makes you wonder if hiring managers even heard about the recession…). They may also simply be facing old-fashioned age discrimination. Whatever the combination of reasons, they’re now poorer, have lost career momentum and now can’t find the jobs they need to reestablish their retirement savings.
One thing’s certain: When we stop to consider only six years ago women comprised 58.6 percent of the workforce, we need to stop feeling everything’s A-OK as we continue to encounter positive statements about the nation’s employment picture.
The Times article goes on to quote an AARP report that says, ““Older displaced women are less likely than displaced men of the same ages to be re-employed and more likely to have left the labor force.” But “left the labor force” is just another way to say forced into retirement.
Clearly, what’s happening to older women and older men who find themselves out of work is they will increasingly need to dip into their retirement accounts to make ends meet. If you’re fifty-five or older, or soon to reach that age range and your retirement nest egg is ample, congratulations! But face it – simply socking away cash, even if your bank raises interest rates, isn’t going to protect the buying power of those funds from inflation’s erosion. And the stock market is one dangerous lottery to play with your hard-earned cash.
Fortunately for those of us on the shady side of forty-five, this is a great time to start accumulating physical gold for your retirement account. Events in China, North Korea and the Middle East (among other places) are reinvigorating the gold market and motivating investors to flock to the yellow metal for the needed safe haven that’s protected wealth for thousands of years.
It’s nice to have an optimistic outlook and believe a better world is only a short mile away. But can you afford to bet the farm? Why not do what professional investors do – despite what they publicly claim; hedge your paper portfolio with gold. You need to provide for your future and financial safety now and not simply hope and pray you won’t become one more unemployment statistic. Get in on gold protection while prices are still low.