Senior citizens in the Central Valley will have serious challenges to survive in the coming decades

In the two decades between 2015 and 2035, California will face a growing retirement crisis, as the elderly population will grow from 7.3 million to 12 million.

This is indicated in the report called “Aging, California Retirement Crisis; Local Indicators ”by Nina Ebner, a graduate in history and urban studies from Yale University, which was edited by Nari Rhee of UC Berkeley.

The report specifies that, for example, for the Los Angeles region – which includes the counties of Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura – of 3.3 million people of legal age who retired from the workforce, the figure it would rise to 5.6 million in 2035.

Comparatively, in the Central Valley region of California, the 752,892 retirements of 2015 will increase to 68% for a total of 2.5 million in 2035.

"I'm not afraid of anything," said Joel Castillo, a Latino man born 74 years ago in Los Angeles and a member of the nonprofit group Fathers & Families of San Joaquin. "I had a double bypass of the coronary artery and I live day by day."

Rhee, who is collaborating in the creation of a master plan on aging for California Governor Gavin Newsom, said that although the retirement crisis is national in scope, older people in the Golden State face high costs of living as challenges.

In addition, the state is located almost at the end in terms of access to a job or a pension or 401 (k). In short, they have no money or savings to face life in the future.

"Currently, one third of Latino older adults in the Central Valley live below the federal poverty level and almost half have incomes that are not sufficient to meet basic needs given the cost of local living," Rhee told La Opinión .

"This situation is likely to get worse in the next decade because Latino workers who are on their way to retirement have not accumulated many assets."

The expert said that, at the state level, 7 out of 10 Latino workers do not participate in a 401 (k) pension and national data show that Hispanics are far behind whites, African Americans and Asians in wealth creation – including retirement savings.

"People of legal age and working in Central Valley agriculture represent the people who have worked all their lives so that all Americans enjoy the food they have produced as a result of their heavy labor," said Leidy Rangel, spokesperson for the Farmers Union (UFW).

"Despite the abuse they received, a significant number of them will not have any benefit because they are undocumented," he added.

The report indicates that upon retirement, many Latinos will replace their income with Social Security.

Undocumented without access to services

Although homeownership is an important part of retirement security, Latinos who are about to retire suffered disproportionate losses in the 2008 real estate market collapse.

Low-wage Latinos have a higher chance of replacing their income with Social Security, unlike high-wage workers.

"Latinos are also more likely than whites to depend on Social Security for most of their income after retirement age," Rhee reported.

However, undocumented workers and those who work primarily in the informal sector will not have access to those benefits, which means they have little to depend on when they retire.

Thus, it is likely that in the coming decades the poverty rates of older Latino adults will increase in the Central Valley of California and other regions of the state.

And many Latinos will continue to be forced to work until old age in physically demanding jobs, until they can no longer work.

California is currently trying to discover how to respond to the rapid growth of the elderly population and it is important to understand that the face of the state's elderly population will ultimately reflect diversity in the next decade.

CalSavers Savings Program Launched

Rhee recommended that the state government, local governments and service providers for the elderly should pay special attention to the needs of older Latino immigrants – especially those who do not have access to Social Security – to ensure that they do not Fall into adversity.

"It is worth noting that the state recently launched CalSavers, an automatic retirement savings program for workers whose employers do not offer a 401 (k) pension, which will be particularly useful for young and middle-aged Latino workers."

By 2022, all private employers with five or more employees will have to offer their own retirement plan or enroll their workers in CalSavers. Workers can choose not to participate if they wish.

The program accepts ITIN, so some undocumented workers may participate. The experience of the state of Oregon – which opened a similar program two years ago – is that many workers still face barriers to validate their identity and open an account.

A "storm" is coming

Fernando Torres Gil, director of the Center for Research on Aging Policies at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, noted that economic and retirement insecurities place Latinos in vulnerable situations as they age.

"Although the amount of" Baby Boomers "(older Americans) has more disposable income and assets accumulated at this time in their life, they also have the lowest savings rates, a higher debt and will live longer," said Torres Gil.

“Latinos in general, especially Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Central Americans (Cubans are the exception), have lower savings rates and pension coverage compared to African Americans and whites and with lower overall educational levels and are less likely to have better paid jobs that allow them to save, ”he said.

He predicted that a "perfect storm" would be added to the above.

“Latinos and especially Hispanic women have the highest life expectancy rates compared to whites and African-Americans and, therefore, will live longer with greater economic and retirement insecurities.”

Despite everything, Joel Castillo – who was a farmer but is already retired – nothing worries. “I live at home with my cousins ​​and we love each other as brothers. Thank God I'm not missing anything, ”he said.

“I am a Christian and a firm believer. Nothing worries me, because when you worry about something that has not happened, the light of your life goes away. Therefore, I have no pressure. Imagine, my three younger brothers than me have already died and I just remain … I am as they say, the last of the Mohicans.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here