Why Americans can’t expect a comfortable retirement anymore

In the old days, when people retired, 30 or 40 years of service to a company was often rewarded with a gold watch. Today it’s more likely to be a gold alarm clock, so those employees can get right back to work.

Our nation’s seniors are working longer than ever as Americans’ retirement dreams evaporate, according to the new book, “Downhill From Here: Retirement Insecurity in the Age of Inequality,” by Katherine S. Newman (Metropolitan Books), out Tuesday.

“Between 1977 and 2007, the number of employees over the age of retirement increased by 101 percent,” writes Newman, noting that “the number of workers 75 and older saw an even more dramatic uptick of 172 percent.”

One primary reason for the increase is the decline of defined-benefit pensions that guarantee a certain amount each year, often replaced with less reliable plans such as 401(k)s — or their elimination altogether.

One primary reason for the increase is the decline of defined-benefit pensions that guarantee a certain amount each year, often replaced with less reliable plans such as 401(k)s — or their elimination altogether.

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