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Working and Working...

Does it feel like it will be a long, long time before you retire? You're in good company.

Since 1996, Americans' expected retirement age has climbed from 60 to 67, according to a Gallup survey released this week.

Other expectations for retirement have also changed. More Americans think they will rely on Social Security as a "major source of income" when they stop working - 33 percent, up from 27 percent in pre-recession 2007. And the gap between nonretirees' expectations of how much they will rely on Social Security and the reality among retirees remains staggering: 57 percent of retiree poll respondents said Social Security was a major source of income.

The unemployment rate for older workers has also risen, and that has important implications for government budgets, The New York Times' Catherine Rampell points out. Unemployment among workers aged 60 to 64 rose from less than 3 percent in the late 1990s to 6.8 percent last year (the country's overall unemployment rate is 8.2 percent):

Perhaps 6.8 percent still sounds low, but consider that once unemployed, older Americans are very unlikely to find a job. The older a worker is, the more difficulty he or she has getting hired....

Struggling with deflated savings and few new job opportunities, older Americans are becoming increasingly dependent on Social Security and other public services.

The country may also see an increase in overall unemployment as a result. Gallup explains:

Poll results showing many Americans planning to retire later and less comfortably have important implications for the workforce participation rate -- an important job-related issue of debate. The question is whether the percentage of Americans in the workforce -- those working or looking for work -- is declining because of the economic downturn or, instead, because of the large number of baby boomers reaching retirement age.

It seems likely that the workforce participation rate will remain high if many Americans, particularly baby boomers, continue to work past traditional retirement age, potentially increasing the overall unemployment rate as the economy improves. This is just the reverse of the idea that the workforce participation rate will continue to decline, and the unemployment rate along with it, as baby boomers reach traditional retirement age.

The poll is a reminder of how far-reaching the effects of the recession may be - not just for individuals and families, but for government budgets, too.

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