Faltering economy hitting Washington’s seniors

Monday’s Yakima Herald-Tribune features once-retired Nancy Richardson, now 70 years old, back on the job hunt after ending her nursing career four years ago to care for ailing family members.

“I can’t afford to maintain a separate household,” says Richardson, who lives in Cowiche. “I will probably have to live with my kids, but I’m trying to postpone that for as long as possible.”

Richardson’s situation is far from unique. According to a recent national survey by the AARP…a significant number of seniors are delaying retirement plans or dipping into their retirement investments early. Some are postponing paying bills, and others are having difficulty affording basic necessities like food, gas and medicine.

The article notes the importance of today’s workers staying out of debt, making financial plans and living within their means – all good points, save perhaps for a subtle, hopefully unintentional bit of “blame the victim”.

Because costs for health care, gas, food and other staples are not within the average worker’s control. Neither is access to paid family leave and sick days, a comprehensive education system (covering pre-K through college or apprenticeship), or unemployment benefits and worker training programs.

Promoting a healthy and growing middle class – and by extension, economic security for the nation – requires strong public structures and a progressive tax system, one where those who have benefited most from shared public investments pay their dues forward to the next generation.

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