TRENDING NOW: Working the Gig Economy after 50—Fun or Financially Necessary?

The New York Times reports a trend where older adults are working in nontraditional settings such as driving services. Estimates from various sources indicate that currently anywhere from 11.4 to 31.2% of workers age 50 to 62 are employed in non-traditional jobs, and this new trend has is causing a mixed bag of emotions: on one hand, it is empowering to see older adults remaining in the workforce and keeping their finger on the pulse of society. On the other hand, as the report suggests, economists are worried that the nontraditional work may be an adverse effect of career loss.

The report presents two people that drive the “mixed-bag” explanation. On one side, there is Dave Zarrow, 68, who began driving for Uber as a remedy to the antsy feeling he felt after retiring, and now spends about 20 hours a week transporting passengers. The nontraditional work is not vital to his economic survival, but it does provide a financial boost so that he can continue living as he did before he retired. On the flip side is Gary Ellenbogen, 64, who is the type of older worker economists worry about. After being let go from his corporate job and not being able to find steady work, Mr. Ellenbogen turned to driving for Lyft. Financially, he is barely staying above water. Economists believe there is a growing number of people 50 and better like these examples, who are joining nontraditional job settings.

Economists struggle to define whether this type of work is “good” or “bad,” but they agree that long hours and the required physical stamina may be hard on an older body. However, if income is needed until a more stable job is acquired, then nontraditional work is surely better than being unemployed. However, studies are suggesting older adults are joining these work areas not because they want to or as a temporary solution, but rather because they need to, and this is prompting a national action that would benefit older adults: more affordable and more accessible health care, which provide relief to some older adults. Other ideas include guaranteed retirement accounts, required employer contributions, and monthly retirement fund payouts .



Source: Span P. Your Uber driver is ‘retired’? You shouldn’t be surprised. New York Times. October 25, 2019. Accessed January 10, 2020.

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