Roundtable brainstorms ways to prevent Baby Boomer flight

Oct 8, 2014

A new AARP report says that nearly half of working Baby Boomers in Erie County could eventually leave New York State, taking $10 billion annually with them. A roundtable discussion was held in Buffalo Tuesday to brainstorm ways to keep the 50+ population in the area.

Associate State Director of AARP Bill Armbruster for Western New York discussing the new Baby Boomer Flight report.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

The AARP report refers to the phenomenon as the Boomer Flight. Baby Boomers could potentially add $22 billion a year to the local and state economy in retirement funds if they stay in Erie County. But, Associate State Director of AARP for Western New York Bill Armbruster says the organization surveyed people 50 years of age and older and they expressed concern about the county’s affordability when they retire.

“This dialog is really about having a conversation about addressing the longevity economy, really looking at how much pension, social security, and everything else contributes to the economy of western New York, and what is it that we can do to keep people here,” said Armbruster.

Baby Boomer Pat Dowling taking part in the AARP discussion.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Baby Boomer Pat Dowling says there are a number of issues where she would like to see change in order to make the region more retirement age friendly, including more affordable utilities and property taxes, age appropriate social clubs and finding a home to age in place.

“The lack as I’m finding of affordable, age friendly housing. I think it’s something that we need to look at. I think we tend to build houses that are overly big for a downsizing retiree couple. Just other opportunities like the colleges. They can say, ‘You loved being with us when you were 18 to 25, come back. We’ll offer you a different type of learning opportunity, because that’s a different type of social network, but also because life-long learning is so important for the brain,’” said Dowling.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, one in seven people living in Erie County were 65 or older. By 2035, the number is projected to be about one in five. Armbruster says he hopes the roundtable spurs changes the will help keep Boomers in the area for years to come.