Aging In Place

Tuesday - 2/3/2009, 4:00am EST

Is your federal office starting to look like a Senior Day Care Center?

Or a retirement home with cubicles?

Is mineral oil the perfect special occasion gift for most of your coworkers?

If so, you are not alone.

Anecdotal evidence (if there is such a thing) continues to mount indicating that lots of feds are working past their planned retirement date.

When is the last time they sounded the Retirement Tsunami warning at work? This time last year it, along with fears of inflation and high gasoline prices, was all the rage. Now many of the same folks are worried about low-gasoline prices causing deflation, and the graying of the civil service at a time when (we are told repeatedly) new blood, new talent and new ideas is what we need.

Some of the hangers on are hanging on for love: Love of the workplace, of having something to do, their colleagues, their mission or their country. Others are doing it for money. Or rather fear of lack of same.

Over the past two weeks we have heard from lots of folks who say they and some of their office mates are staying on the job. A number had planned to retire this month, but they've delayed it either because of uncertain economic conditions, the ever-shrinking private job market and/or their ever-shrinking Thrift Savings Plan accounts.

Thanks to the October nose dive in the U.S. and world stock markets, the C-fund of the federal 401(k) plan was down 36.99 percent last year. The small-cap U.S. stock S-fund was down 38.32 percent and the international stock index I-fund was down 42.43 percent. Two years ago (in 2007) the I-fund was up 11.43 percent and the year before it was up 26.32 percent, with both the C and S funds coasting on four years of double-digit gains.

Most of us hope something, or a combination of some things, will turn things around.

Meantime, David of the IRS, says what's needed to save and inspire feds is a super-hero. He was inspired (David, it turns out, is easily inspired) by a SuperHero picture of me that ran last week, courtesy of super editor Suzanne Kubota. The smart money says that picture/column is likely to become a collectors item!

At any rate, David says:

...I, too, postponed my retirement this year for various reasons, not the least of which being the economy. Two others in my office also postponed for six months (we'll see what happens then). Only 35 percent of my TSP is in the stock market, but even that hurts some. Now I may stay for a promotion and to increase my high-3 year average.

The CauseyMan superhero picture reminded me of a Mad Magazine cartoon years ago showing time-progressed super characters such as Batman and Superman. Bank robbers shot Superman who was wounded and lying on the ground. A bystander asked a serious of questions like "why didn't you catch the bullets with your hands?" to which Superman responds, "arthritis", and then "why didn't you catch them with your teeth" to which Superman replies "what teeth?"

Meantime, hang in there.

Nearly Useless Factoid

From Neatorama's "Fun and Unusual Units of Measurements", atomus used to mean the smallest amount of time imagineable. Now, it's defined as 1/376 minute or about 160 milliseconds.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com