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Published September 20, 2010, 10:51 AM

Retirement is anything but for those returning to workforce

DETROIT — Looking for work is a new part-time job for many retirees. A few years ago, thousands of people thought it was OK to retire because they easily would be able to fill some of their time — and their wallets — with another job. But then the recession hit and the jobless rate jumped.

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

DETROIT — Looking for work is a new part-time job for many retirees.

A few years ago, thousands of people thought it was OK to retire because they easily would be able to fill some of their time — and their wallets — with another job. But then the recession hit and the jobless rate jumped.

"My main worry is I may never get another job, regardless of how much I try," said Steve Sajewicz, 58, who had 35 years at Ford when he took an early retirement offer in June 2007.

Sajewicz, a journeyman pipefitter with a bachelor's degree in economics from Wayne State University, has, by his estimate, filled out hundreds of job applications since then and had 50-60 interviews without landing a job.

He drove to Akron, Ohio, in a snowstorm for one interview. Others were in Cleveland; Battle Creek, Mich.; and Henderson, Nev., outside Las Vegas, for which he was flown in but not hired.

One job seemed close, but then the company, Alcoa, announced plans a few weeks later to cut 15,000 jobs.

Sajewicz even tried for a few retail jobs — such as putting together bicycles at Toys "R' Us.

Nothing.

Nearly one-quarter of retirees aged 45-80 now feel they need to go back to work, according to a telephone survey conducted by Matthew Greenwald & Associates and the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Sajewicz has been out of work before — for about 56 months between 1980 and 1987 — and it scared him. He was unable to pay his property taxes on time.

So he did all he could to pay off the mortgage on his home in Wyandotte, Mich., before retiring from Ford, where he was making about $60,000 a year.

"A lot of us thought if we didn't go, the company wouldn't make it," Sajewicz said. And if the company didn't make it, the experienced workers would have to worry about their pensions.

He also saved money in the years before retiring and receives a pension of about $34,000 a year from Ford, which will drop once he begins drawing Social Security. His wife, Kathy Sajewicz, works as an X-ray technician.

Steve Sajewicz felt so secure moving into that early retirement that he took his $35,000 buyout and bought a black cherry pearl Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic. His wife approved. She likes to ride with him.

"It's as good as it gets," Sajewicz said of his motorcycle.

Sajewicz said he doesn't regret retiring, but he sure is upset that he cannot easily find a job.

"I set July 1 as a date when I wasn't going to apply for jobs any more," he said in mid-July.

But he's still looking.

"I'm too young to sit home and do nothing," he said. Still, he feels like his window for work is closing.

"If the economy is going to double-dip, then by the time it comes out, I'll be 60," he said. And, he asked, who is going to hire someone that old?


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