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AARP Report: NY On Track For Billion-Dollar Baby Boomer Flight Problem

Baby Boomers in New York State's workforce are set to deliver a whopping $179 billion a year to the state's economy in their retirement — if they stay put, that is. An AARP paper out this week says that 60 percent of New York's working Boomers could be headed out of state, taking $105 billion annually with them.

AARP has dubbed the phenomenon "Boomer Flight." The association has enlisted the help of a virtual thinktank of state and national leaders to identify issues that may be driving Boomers to pull up stakes — and what steps could be taken to entice them to stick around.
AARP and Oxford Economics have determined the total economic impact of New York's 50+, known as the "Longevity Economy," is huge: nearly $600 billion, supporting 53 percent of the state's jobs, 48 percent of its employee compensation and 44 percent of all state taxes.

Nevertheless, Boomers are leaving:  AARP New York State legislative representative Bill Ferris quotes from a new AARP statewide survey of 50+ voters:  "When you retire will you stay in New York? 60 percent of the people said who would actually be able to retire at around 65 said they would leave the state. With that population leaving the state at 65 it's worth about $105 billion leaving New York if this population leaves. That is very troublesome to AARP and we think that the state needs to do a better job to keep this population living in New York."

Ferris says for fleeing Boomers, it's all about their kitchen table economies.   "People are upset and can't afford their property taxes, they can't afford utilities, they believe the rent is high, they don't think there's enough services to help them age in their communities. These are some of the problems we saw in our survey that need to be addressed by the state in this coming year."

A forum on the importance of Boomers to New York’s economy and the necessity of creating the conditions that will keep them from moving elsewhere in their retirement years was held Monday in Albany.  New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who oversees the state’s retirement funds, was one of the panelists.   "The issue of affordable housing certainly is a key one that we put out a report on, and, retirement security, certainly in role as trustee of the pension fund, a big concern there. Health care, another issue that was touched on at the forum that AARP and city and state sponsored. Those are big issues that very much confront the Baby Boomer generation. It's in all of our interests to be supportive as that generation navigates all those issues."

Ferris is calling upon Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to attend to the issue of Boomer flight as soon as the new session begins.     "If some of these issues around caregiving, around the ability of people to retire, the ability of people to save for retirement, we think if these issues are addressed it will go a long way to help keep this population in New York State."

DiNapoli concedes there will always be a certain number of people who wish to continue working beyond retirement age.   "...and God bless 'em if that's their personal choice. But I worry about those who have to do that out of necessity. And you know the other fact that came out in our discussions this week, the fact that people are living much longer. The number of people that are gonna be reaching age 90 over the coming years is growing exponentially."

A call for comment to the Cuomo administration was not returned.

It may be in the best interests of politicians to act quickly on helping Boomers: it was brought up at the forum that in the 2010 gubernatorial election, 52 percent of New Yorkers age 50 plus cast their votes: about twice the rate of their 18-49 counterparts.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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