Boomers and the "Hot" Job Market

OntheClockWith the unemployment rate at its lowest point in 18 years, the job market is "sizzling hot," writes career/retirement coach Nancy Collamer. Reporting on a work conference sponsored by Indeed.com, Collamer heard that the job market is tight and talent is hard to find, although wages are generally not going up in keeping with the labor demand.

Still, a robust job market should be good news for Boomers, shouldn't it? Well, yes and no. On the positive side, a Boomer with experience in a field considered desirable by employers may have an easier time than ever securing a part-time or full-time position. On the negative side, there is still plenty of age discrimination, and there is little Boomers can do about it. The fact is employers can interview all they want for an open position, and once they have several candidates available, more often than not they will pick younger over older.

Dust off your resume if you're in a job that you'd like to leave, or if you want to re-enter the workforce. If an employer cannot fill a position and your background and experience are an excellent fit, the market is such that you could be offered a full-time position. Keep in mind, however, that your salary expectations may have to be adjusted. Also, there is always the possibility that you can work part-time or become a contract worker if you don't want a full-time position or, at the very least, you may be able to negotiate flexible hours.

Interestingly, this might be an ideal time to see if your former employer needs help. In an article for The New York Times, Claudia Dreifus profiles several retirees who returned to work years after retiring because their employers had open positions they needed to fill. For example, a 60-year old registered nurse who retired was rehired by a hospital as a freelance nurse for 24 hours per week at a respectable $60 per hour.

A booming job market could be good for some Boomers -- but not for all. That's why it still makes a lot of sense to explore freelance work or self-employment as an option if you want to continue to work.


Two Helpful Resources: Eating Right and Moving

OntheHouseI'm pleased to say the "Happily Rewired" blog has attracted enough attention that I periodically receive unsolicited input that could be helpful to my readers. Here are two such resources that I think you will find of interest:

  1. A Senior's Guide to Healthy Eating
    The website "Nifty Benefits" has put together a helpful infographic. According to the creator Brenda Snow, "My goal with this guide is to help seniors live a fulfilling life, starting with a foundation of good nutrition. From the limitations that can cause seniors to have poor nutrition, to easy tips to incorporate healthy foods into your lifestyle or the lifestyle of your loved one, this guide has a lot of information that I hope will be valuable to you." The informative guide covers observing good basics and special considerations for older adults.
    Find it here: https://niftybenefits.com/seniors-guide-healthy-eating/
  2. The Senior Citizen's Guide to Moving
    The website "Hire a Helper" has created a comprehensive free guide to moving. The six helpful chapters are:
    - Popular moving options for seniors
    - Planning out your new home
    - How to downsize
    - The emotional impact of downsizing
    - Moving tips for senior citizens
    - Staying connected in a new city.
    Find it here: https://blog.hireahelper.com/senior-citizens-moving/

July Half Price Sale on Couples Business Book

LMMH book cover-jpg BooksIf you've ever thought about going into business with your spouse, you need to read Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business. The book has received excellent reviews from book reviewers and readers alike. It tells the story of how a Boomer couple started a small service business and sold it seven years later. You'll find plenty of advice about what to do and what not to do when starting a business with your spouse. Included are details about planning, financing, outfitting, and launching a service business, as well as operations, marketing, sales, customer service, and managing growth. Useful tools to help couples assess their business interests and business compatibility are also included. 

For the month of July only, Happily Rewired is offering the eBook edition of Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business at half price -- just $3.50 -- if you order it through Smashwords. You can get the book in any format for any device, including a PDF. 

To get your copy at half-price, simply go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568837  When you place your order, enter the code SSW50 and you'll pay just $3.50 instead of the regular price of $6.99. This offer is only good from July 1 through 31 at Smashwords so order today!


Insights About Retirement Worth Considering

MusingsHere's an intriguing question that was asked of retiree investors by the well-known mutual fund company, Vanguard: "If you had a do-over, what would you do differently to prepare for retirement?"

Vanguard received hundreds of answers to that question, and Matt Bell of The Balance highlighted some of the primary areas of concern. These areas provide important insights about retirement worth considering for Boomers, since they reflect the opinions of retirees who have already been through this stage of life.

Investing Earlier
A common theme was that retirees should have considered investing earlier than they did. They recognized that compounding works best over a long period of time.

Investment Decisions
Ill-informed investment decisions were another regret. Clearly, it pays to consider investment decisions wisely instead of risking assets on speculative investments. A related regret was investing too heavily in an employer's stock. When it comes to objective investment decisions, a financial advisor is an important resource.

Social Security
Retirees recognized that it may have been short-sighted to take Social Security payments too early. At the very least, waiting until "full retirement age," or age 70 if possible (when you receive the maximum Social Security monthly payout) makes a real difference in income in later years.

Understanding What Retirement Means
Retirees regretted concentrating on only the financial aspects of retirement. Just as important is the psychological impact of retirement. What you will do in retirement becomes a key challenge, one for which many retirees are unprepared.

Instead of second-guessing your retirement and being unprepared, think carefully about it and plan ahead!


Higher Education at an Older Age

OnaWhimA common characteristic of Boomers is their desire to learn for enjoyment. Education seems to become all the more precious as we age; the popularity of adult education courses through such organizations as OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) is evidence of that fact.

Sometimes, though, higher education at an older age serves another more practical purpose: To learn new subjects and skills that are directly applicable to employment. There are obvious challenges in returning to college, but it is a route that is becoming far more common than you might think. The payback is in potentially making yourself a more attractive job candidate.

If you are considering going back to school for job-related purposes, you might want to check out this article:  "The Time is Now: Going Back to School at 50." Posted by Maryville College, which has helped pioneer online college courses, the article discusses reasons you might want to return to college, factors to take into consideration, and degrees and career paths that might be available to you. The article links to a "going back to school checklist" and also points to numerous additional resources. Check it out.


"RBG" -- A Must-see Documentary that Destroys the Aging Myth

MediaIf anyone typifies the adage that you are only as old as you feel, it is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At age 85, Ginsburg often works through the night and spends an hour a day with a personal trainer on a physical regimen that would put people half her age to shame. She has even overcome two of the most serious forms of cancer, colorectal and pancreatic, as well as the loss of her husband Marty to cancer.

Her story is brilliantly told in the documentary, RBG, that recently ran in select movie theaters. If you missed it, this is definitely a film you want to catch when it hits the streaming market. While the documentary includes the standard biographical overview of a celebrity, it speaks to the wonderful relationship she had with Marty, who supported and encouraged her at a time when women were not supposed to be working, much less as attorneys. RBG highlights the remarkable achievements of this slight, quiet woman from Brooklyn, New York, who as an attorney won five of six cases before the Supreme Court, paving the way for the equal treatment of women in our society.

Another aspect of the film is invigorating: It depicts how Ginsburg has become a virtual cult hero among young women, proving that age is no barrier when it comes to greatness. The film offers insight into the personal life of Ginsburg, too, humanizing a Supreme Court Justice in an intimate, endearing way. We see, for example, the warm friendship Ginsburg had with Antonin Scalia, her polar opposite on the Court, and her ability to laugh at herself while watching a Saturday Night Live skit parodying her.

Whether you are a Ginsburg fan or not, it is hard not to respect and admire her after watching RBG. I highly recommend it.


Are You Miscalculating Your Retirement Income?

MusingsAs a Boomer, you have probably found it useful, at one point or another, to calculate the retirement income you think you will need. Unfortunately, not all of those seemingly handy online retirement calculators are as helpful as they may seem.

According to the Retirement Income Industry Association, some online calculators can offer "extremely misleading" data. That's why it may make a difference to use the right calculator.

This useful article from The Balance evaluates and ranks a number of online calculators on the basis of three key criteria: accuracy, usability, and education. Check it out.

In addition, it should be obvious that an online retirement calculator is just one tool. When it comes to something as important as planning for retirement income, many factors come into play, including Social Security payments, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts, and income taxes. While a calculator can give you a rough idea of what you will need, you'd do best to work with a financial planner to get the complete picture.


Why the Gig Economy May be a Boomer's Best Bet

OnYourOwnI've written frequently about how age discrimination tends to force Boomers out of their jobs and into early retirement. In March 2018, a rather stunning report by Pro Publica and Mother Jones uncovered alleged massive elimination of older workers at no less a stellar company than IBM. According to the Pro Publica investigation, "ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its estimated total U.S. job cuts during those years. 

"In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees."

Sadly, this is just one example of widespread actions taken against highly skilled Boomer workers who have decades of experience, want to continue to work, and in many cases, need to continue to work. Once let go, of course, age discrimination continues to plague them, since an unfairly fired Boomer often has great difficulty getting re-hired by another company.

This is one reason the gig economy is flourishing. Self-employment in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is highest among people 65 and older (24.1 percent), with second highest among people 55 to 64 years of age (14.7 percent). A forecast by Intuit predicts that 7.6 million Americans will be working in the "on-demand" economy by 2020, which is  more than double the number in 2015. The on-demand economy will continue to see healthy growth in subsequent years, with some 79 percent of workers saying they take on part-time gigs.

Some other facts about the gig economy are impressive enough to open the eyes of Boomers who need to seek non-traditional employment, as reported by The Balance:

  • 70 percent of self-employed workers chose that status of their own free will for either a primary or supplemental source of income (McKinsey Global Institute)
  • Over 50 percent of self-employed workers want to stay that way -- they intend never to return to traditional full-time employment (LinkedIn ProFinder)
  • 20 to 30 percent of workers in the U.S. and Europe are engaged in "some form of independent work" (McKinsey Global Institute)
  • Numerous industries are showing robust growth for self-employed workers, including healthcare, real estate, construction, finance, and software/IT services (LinkedIn).

Bottom line: If you are on the outs with full-time employment, maybe it's time to get into the gig economy.

 


Number One No More

MusingsNext year for the first time, the Boomer generation will relinquish its position as the #1 generation in terms of percentage of the U.S. population. Taking over will be... who else but the Millennials.

Statistically, it doesn't really matter, but socially, it's a big deal. We are already witnessing the mass cultivation of Millennials with products and services targeting them as Boomers fade in popularity. Similarly, businesses have little compunction when it comes to ejecting a Boomer employee in favor of a Millennial employee.

The Wharton School of Business has something to say about the coarseness of letting Boomers go because of age: "...companies eager to move baby boomers along should be careful what they wish for. For one thing, millennials are less likely to stay in jobs than others, and turnover often carries high hidden costs. For another, few workplaces have mastered a system for transferring knowledge from one generation to the next."

The fact is, age discrimination is widespread across many businesses, putting Boomers in a precarious position because it is difficult to prove and take legal action against an employer who practices age discrimination. According to Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics Janice Bellace, “It is much more difficult to prove age discrimination than race or sex discrimination." Bellace says the burden of proof that an employee was demoted or fired because of age lies with the employee. “That’s a very heavy burden of proof,” she says. “In real life, if an employer would like to push out an older worker, the employer’s [managers] would have to be idiots not to lay down some paper trail that suggests that there were some other reasons for dismissing the person. It’s even more difficult in a hiring case, because the plaintiff must prove that there was no other reason, except for age, that the employer preferred another candidate.”

Age discrimination will therefore continue to be a big challenge for Boomers, who may need to find non-traditional employment as an alternative, such as becoming self-employed and working on a contract basis.


"Unvarnished Truths" About Retirement

MusingsSome Boomers approach retirement with apprehension, while others are chomping at the bit to start a new life. Jonathan Look decided to retire early -- at age 50 -- and follow his muse. Six years later, he shares some of the things he learned along the way, and they're not all pretty. Still, if you're close to retirement, or already retired, Look's 21 "unvarnished truths" are worth reading and considering. They include such eye-openers as:

  • Money is overrated.
  • Time is your most valuable asset.
  • Your bucket list is crap.
  • You can't make people happy.
  • Negativity wastes life.

Sounds to me like Look is quite the philosopher. Take a look at his entire list of unvarnished truths about retirement on NextAvenue.org. You may not agree with everything he has to say, but he certainly isn't afraid to be thought-provoking. And if you aren't a subscriber to NextAvenue.org, I suggest you sign up for the free newsletter. It is one of the more valuable information sources for Boomers in pre-retirement and retirement.