Sure, sure, nearly every American worker past 50 has heard that Americans are working longer than ever, with some ignoring retirement not just for a little while, but forever.
But who knew the possibilities, plus the hip language used to describe the trend? Can you say ”gig economy?” The phrase actually is said to originate in the 1940’s, beginning with the prevalence of part-time work during World War II. But it’s cropping up more and more, to describe part-time workers, independent contractors, freelancers, those who work seasonal jobs and other part time, well, gigs.
How prevalent is the gig economy? It’s big and getting bigger. Some surveys report a full 75% of boomers work in the gig economy, while 67% of millennials and 45% of Gen Xers do. And while some work in the gig economy by choice, others are forced into it. The same survey, (sponsored by www.bestmastersprograms.org, which steers people to online and traditional masters programs) found that about 65% of workers age 45 and up say they have seen or experienced workplace age discrimination. What type? Usually not being hired for a position for which they qualified; sometimes passed over for a promotion. In a smaller percent of cases, being laid off or fired for unclear reasons, with an enforced retirement that is all too familiar to many.
The rise of the Greypreneur
Increasing numbers of older workers are launching their own businesses—57% of small business owners are over age 50. One big advantage ‘greypreneurs” have: access to funding may be quicker and simpler than it is for younger entrepreneurs. After all, you’ve had time to beef up that FICO score to way past 800. And you don’t just have financial stability, you likely have business acumen.
Freelancing and other entrepreneur-type gigs are plentiful. Among the choices are renting out your spare bedroom as an Air BNB, becoming a dog walker through services such as Rover or Wag, selling your pottery, handmade jewelry or photography online via Etsy. Or check out gig websites like Fiverr, Upwork or TaskRabbit.
Whatever your gig, experts say it’s important to stay focused and to market yourself. Words and attitude matter. You’re not old, you are seasoned or experienced. And you’re willing to learn—to build on your base of established, valuable skills. Senior Planet can help: It will be including “Work!” – a course to help older job seekers – in its Spring Course offerings at the Senior Planet Exploration Center at 127 W. 25th Street in Chelsea. Watch for an announcement in late March of our Spring classes and registration information. Senior Planet members outside of New York City should check our location list for the nearest Senior Planet Exploration Center to inquire about a local “Work!” course.
Need more info and inspiration? Check out some books and other words of wisdom from George Schofield, PhD, such as “After 50 It’s Up to Us.”
There’s one downside of the gig economy, though. Many gig economy folks are 1099’ers, with no taxes taken out, so a good accountant is a plus, if you’re not good at figuring out income taxes. He or she will let you know right away–you may be rolling in the dough, but not all of it will stick.
Tell us: Do you have a gig going that’s great? Or do you have an idea you need feedback on?