This isn't new. During the industrial revolution, millions of jobs were eliminated because of machines or development of new products that made others obsolete. The difference between the technological advancements of the industrial revolution versus those of today is that half or more of all future product and service needs won't be replaced by humans but by computers.
Some may argue that we'll create more jobs to replace those lost, but the last ten years are a clear indication that computation and automation are advancing faster than the invention of new products or industries that require (human) labor.
The good news is that society can still function effectively with less man-hours of work. The bad news is that most current systems of government and economic management aren't set up for this.
- People are continuing to live longer.
The average life expectancy is on a steady uptick. Like every other industry, technology in medicine is advancing at an exponential rate, meaning that life spans will likely rise faster than ever before. So the equation we're left with is that life spans are increasing while job availability, especially amongst the 50- to 65-year-old range, is decreasing.
Even more problematic: many retirees of today and tomorrow are banking on a system with a hazy future. Social security has a short life-span because the funds flowing in are slower than the funds going out. 401Ks are not keeping pace with inflation (especially as it relates to healthcare and housing costs) and pensions are nearly extinct or in a world of trouble.
In context of this article, "retirement" means not working a standard 40-hour week at a traditional job or not relying on being a full-time "employee". Perhaps you will work for yourself or at a part-time job. You might even make enough money trading stocks or selling technology.
Despite the possibilities, the current state of retirement proves that, since the eighties, Americans have been underestimating their retirement needs. This has created a dangerous downward spiral for many retirees. So what should you do to be prepared when the time for retirement comes (possibly sooner than you think)?