Men and Women Face Distinct Retirement Challenges

Men have higher unemployment rates, but women face more years of retirement to finance

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It’s the battle of the sexes: retirement edition. Two reports crossed my desk this week each pointing out unique retirement challenges faced by either men or women. Here’s a quick look.

Women’s challenges. Women typically live longer than men, which means more years of retirement that need to be financed. Once you make it to age 65, American men can expect to live 13 years while women are likely to persist for 15 years. A report issued yesterday by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that a woman with a salary of $50,000 must save $1,000 more per year than her male counterpart to achieve equitable retirement income because of her longer life expectancy. Women are also less likely than men to have traditional pensions that provide income for life. The study also noted that women with husbands who have traditional pensions may be better off than women whose spouses only have a 401(k) or IRA because pensions often continue to pay out benefits to spouses.

Men’s challenges. But women aren’t the only ones facing unique retirement challenges. It appears that men age 55 and older may actually be more likely to lose their jobs than women. The unemployment rate for persons aged 55 and over rose from 6.2 percent in March to 6.4 percent in April, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of the increase in unemployment was among men, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute analysis of the unemployment data. The unemployment rate increased from 6.3 percent in March to 6.7 percent in April, while the rate for women fell from 5.8 percent to 5.4 percent. The number of persons aged 55 and over with jobs rose by 90,000 in April, but almost all of those jobs went to women, AARP found.