No Easy Solution to Age Discrimination

MusingsIf you'd like to get an eye-opening perspective on age discrimination, read Chris Farrell's recent article on NextAvenue.org. He discusses a Supreme Court case which essentially sided with R. J. Reynolds, a company that allegedly discriminated against a 49-year old highly qualified job applicant named Richard Villarreal. Despite the 50-year old Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which in theory protects those 40 years and older from age discrimination in the workplace, the Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand; Farrell writes "The courts dismissed Villarreal’s suit saying the ADEA claim he brought only protected existing employees, not job applicants. The courts also agreed with Reynolds that Villarreal hadn’t 'diligently' pursued why he didn’t hear back about his application."

Farrell points out "The Supreme Court and many lower courts increasingly defer to employers on hiring and employment decisions when it comes to what the ADEA calls 'reasonable factors other than age.' (For example, employers can justify as a reasonable business decision laying off their most expensive workers who happen to have seniority and are mostly older.)"

So if there is no legal recourse when you believe you have been discriminated against because of your age, what can you do? Chris Farrell has some excellent suggestions, but all of them put the onus on Congress or the federal EEOC to take action.

Farrell makes an impassioned plea to government and industry to institute a kind of hiring known as "safe harbor," along with training programs for older workers: "The timing may be propitious for an experiment combining safe-harbor hiring and well-funded training programs for older workers. After eight years of steady economic growth and an unemployment rate at 4.4 percent, employers are currently looking for workers. Yet management too often seems blind to the opportunities available from recruiting older applicants with skills, knowledge and experience."

Sadly, there is no easy solution to age discrimination, which puts many Boomers at risk in the job market. Maybe this is one reason an increasing number of Boomers choose to work for themselves.

Read Farrell's thoughtful article here: http://www.nextavenue.org/the-supreme-court-turns-its-back-on-age-discrimination/


Americans are Still Not Saving Enough for Retirement

MusingsIt is no wonder that more and more Boomers are staying in the workforce, maintaining either full-time or part-time positions or working for themselves. Many Boomers need to continue to work, because surveys indicate that Americans simply are not saving enough for retirement.

For example, a new AARP survey of 1,500 middle income workers ages 40 to 59 confirms that retirement savings take a back seat to other financial needs. According to AARP, "76 percent of respondents have accomplished significant financial goals such as buying a home, while more than 70 percent have paid off mortgages, student loans or credit card balances. Some 67 percent have saved for a family vacation. 

"But just 48 percent say they’ve saved enough to live comfortably through retirement. Nearly 30 percent say they forgo essentially free money by failing to get the full employer match in company-sponsored retirement plans; nearly 25 percent aren’t using recommended savings tactics such as setting aside automatic paycheck deductions."

AARP believes the problem is so serious that the organization has launched an interactive coaching tool to help people squirrel away retirement savings.

Under-funded retirement is really no surprise. Consider how the very nature of work and retirement has changed during our lifetime. It is exceedingly rare for an employee to remain at a company for many years, and just as rare for a company nowadays to provide a pension plan. Some companies offer to match retirement contributions made by employees, but the employee still has to pay into the plan from wages earned. Ironically, some jobs many once considered poor career choices from a monetary perspective, such as teaching or mid-level government positions, could now be considered attractive because of their health insurance or pension benefits.

In addition, the cost of goods and services continues to rise even as workers' wages remain stagnant. The average American family often has two incomes, but that is hardly enough to cover more than the basics of life. What if that family wants to send a child to college? It is likely they would have to start saving for that college education when the child is a toddler. Add to this the reality of monthly rent or mortgage payments, credit card debt, and putting aside some money for an emergency, and it is pretty obvious that saving for retirement is not a priority.

The fact is, "retirement" is just not a possibility for millions of Americans. There are many conditions that need to change for most people to be able to consider retiring. Boomers are often credited with redefining retirement, but I suspect part of the reason we are redefining retirement is not just because we want to, but because we have to. 


Ever Wonder What Other Boomers Do for Work?

OntheClockWorking past the previously accepted retirement age of 65 is now commonplace. Most Boomers want to, or have to, work into their 70s and perhaps even beyond. So what are all these Boomers doing for work?

It turns out that an increasing percentage of Boomers start their own businesses, or work independently as freelancers in what has become known as the "gig economy." According to recent data cited by Nancy Collamer in her article about the gig economy for Next Avenue, freelancers/consultants/temps and on-call workers (i.e., "independents") make up 31 percent of the private workforce. For those 53 years and older, the percentage is 35 percent. Nancy offers some valuable tips on how Boomers can enter the gig economy.

So what jobs do the rest of us hold? Zippia, a new career site intended for recent college graduates, shares some interesting data in an article entitled "The Jobs You'll Work When You Retire." The five most common jobs for those over 65, according to Zippia, are motor vehicle operators (this includes taxis, trucks, etc.), embalmers/funeral attendants (really!), crossing guards, models/demonstrators/product promoters, and tax preparers.

Another data point is jobs with the most older workers. These jobs include: accountants, lawyers,nurses, physicians, retail salespeople, senior managers, and teachers/professors. It is also a fact that, in general, average workers age 60 to 74 are paid more in hourly wages than average workers age 25 to 59.

Check out the Zippia article for more details to learn what other Boomers do for work: https://www.zippia.com/advice/jobs-youll-work-retire/


How Tech Savvy are Seniors?

MediaThe respected Pew Research Center recently shared in-depth statistics about the use of technology by older adults in the U.S. The data presents a fascinating look at people like you and me who utilize smartphones and the Internet.

To put things into perspective, Pew defines "older adults" as those of us who are 65 years of age and older. That is currently 46 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population. That percentage is projected to grow to 22 percent by 2050. Almost half (42 percent) of these older adults own a smartphone now, a dramatic increase from 18 percent in 2013. Over two-thirds (67 percent) use the Internet, and 51 percent now have broadband connectivity at home. About one-third (32 percent) own tablet computers.

Younger seniors are more tech savvy than older seniors, reports the Pew Research Center:

"Seniors ages 65 to 69 are about twice as likely as those ages 80 and older to say they ever go online (82% vs. 44%) or have broadband at home (66% vs. 28%), and they are roughly four times as likely to say they own smartphones (59% vs. 17%)."

Another aspect of smartphone ownership, Internet usage, and broadband connectivity is not surprising: the more affluent the senior, the higher the usage and availability of technology.

Generally, seniors have a positive impression of technology:

"Fully 58% of adults ages 65 and older say technology has had a mostly positive impact on society, while roughly three-quarters of internet-using seniors say they go online on a daily basis – and nearly one-in-ten go online almost constantly."

The use of social media is mixed. A majority of seniors do not use social media, with just 34 percent saying they ever use social media networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. However, 45 percent of seniors under the age of 75 say they ever use social media.

One of the more telling barriers to technology adoption is confidence. According to Pew Research Center, "just 26% of internet users ages 65 and over say they feel very confident when using computers, smartphones or other electronic devices to do the things they need to do online. ... Roughly one-third describe themselves as only a little (23%) or not at all (11%) confident in their ability to use electronic devices to do necessary online activities."

For me, the data validates what I generally believe about technology usage. As a blogger and digital marketer who has made use of technology for a long time, I know that my comfort level with smartphones and the Internet is higher than many of my generational peers. However, I definitely relate to the relatively low usage of social media by seniors; while I blog and actively use LinkedIn and Twitter for professional purposes, I am not engaged with Facebook.

 Hopefully the data from the Pew Research Center helps you have a better understanding of tech usage by seniors. How does your use of technology fit with others in your age group?


July Half-Price Sale on Business Book for Boomer Couples

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!


Reality Check for Over 50 Job Seekers

OntheClockOne of the truly disheartening things for Boomers is finding yourself out of a job for a long time and looking for another one. The sad truth is that, even with expertise and experience, Boomers are largely discriminated against by American companies. Their short-sighted view is that Boomers cost too much; they can hire younger, less experienced workers at lower wages. Some subtle and some not-so-subtle age discrimination is levied against over 50 job seekers and there is little that can be done about it.

So what productive action can you take if you're over 50, you want a job, and you've been out of work for some time? Career counselor Marc Miller has some good advice.

Marc says anyone over 50 who has been unemployed for over six months should seriously consider becoming self-employed. He points out that we are rapidly moving toward a "contractor based economy." Depending on your skills and interests, you are likely to find some type of work that you can do on a contract basis. Considering contract, temporary, or part-time work makes sense and will be easier to find, in Marc's view.

Another good suggestion of Marc's is to volunteer when you are unemployed for a long time. He says volunteering can be valuable in a number of ways, including:

  • Build your self esteem
  • Build on your brand image
  • Create a portfolio of your life work
  • Improve your marketable skills.

Marc shares several other sound ideas in his article, which you can read here: 
https://careerpivot.com/2013/you-are-over-50-and-long-term-unemployed-what-do-you-do/


Will You Really Move When You Retire?

OntheGoMany Boomers have dreams of relocating when they retire, but that doesn't match reality. Data cited by Mark Miller in "Stopping Work and Then Staying Put," his excellent article for The New York Times, indicates "only six-tenths of 1 percent of Americans over age 55 moved across a state line in 2015."

Still, Boomers are adventurous and interested in other parts of the country and the world, so as Miller points out in his article, there are plenty of sources proclaiming the best places to retire. The Milken Institute, for example, considers 381 U.S. metropolitan areas and ranks them for retirement suitability. The annually published Global Retirement Index ranks twenty-four leading countries for retirees.

Retirement expert Bert Sperling tells Miller there are some 40 surveys done of best places to retire, but he advises Boomers that they may not be picking a place and staying there forever. "There are really three stages," Sperling says, "a 'go-go' period where you're very active and seeing the world, then a time when you're slowing down and need more health care resources, and then a third where you really need to be cared for."

My wife and I, after more than thirty years of living in Boston, Massachusetts, decided to relocate to Asheville, North Carolina. We did so just as our daughter was going to college. We were tired of the Boston weather and wanted to downsize. After eleven years in Asheville, we have been happy with our choice. Just about everyone we've met in Asheville, most of them Boomers, relocated from somewhere else.

Relocation at retirement is obviously a very personal decision, and some of the reasons for relocating can be compelling. Some Boomers relocate to move closer to adult children, other family, or life-long friends; others move to change their lifestyle; still others may want to experience an entirely different culture by moving to another country. Before we made our move, we did consult a source of "best places to retire" and carefully evaluated cities and towns in the U.S. based on our needs and wants. For us, Asheville kept coming up to the top of the list.

Whatever your decision, do your research and make several visits to potential retirement locations so you really get to know the area before you commit to a move. 


Is Coaching or Consulting for You?

OnYourOwnThink about how much intellectual capital is lost when an experienced employee leaves a company. That person has developed a knowledge base, the expertise, and the stature to work as a high-level professional.

If you have been fortunate enough to hold such a career position, chances are your value in the marketplace can apply to a potentially lucrative, flexible second career: coaching or consulting. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Dorie Clark, author of the book Reinventing You, offers some excellent advice in "How to Become a Coach or Consultant After You Retire."

Clark recommends giving yourself plenty of time to make the transition from your full-time job to becoming self-employed -- as much as a year or more. She recommends conducting a self-assessment skills analysis to determine where you need to improve.

Clark says it's a good idea to concentrate early efforts on recruiting clients, even if some are volunteer efforts: "To gain experience as a coach or consultant," writes Clark, "take on a few volunteer clients on the side, while you’re still employed, in exchange for testimonials and future referrals (assuming it’s a good experience)." She also recommends a sensible attitude toward marketing: "Recognize the goal of your marketing," Clark writes, "[is] establishing a baseline of credibility for when a potential client checks you out." And taking a break between your job and starting a consulting practice is not a bad idea, either.

Coaching or consulting is not for everyone, but it is certainly a viable option if you have both the depth of experience and the desire to run your own show.

 


Resources for Seniors

OnaWhimHave you noticed that the number of online resources available for seniors has blossomed lately? It comes as no surprise -- Boomers are aging, they'll need all kinds of services, and information is free-flowing from service organizations and marketers who want to reach seniors. I've already mentioned one of the best resources from PBS, Next Avenue. (http://www.nextavenue.org/) Be sure to subscribe to their free email newsletter.

One of the newer resources is the website Senior Care Helper (http://seniorcarehelper.org/). Its mission is to be a resource for seniors and their caregivers. Especially for Happily Rewired readers, Susan Williams of Senior Care Helper was kind enough to share several links to valuable information for seniors about health, finances, aging in place, moving, and more. Check them out below.

Senior Health Resources

Boomer's Roadmap to Aging in Place

Moving Tips for Seniors

Financial Resources for Seniors

Planning for the Future for Seniors with Special Needs

Veterans Benefits for Seniors

Legal Planning for Alzheimer's and Dementia


Mourning a Career Loss

MusingsRetirement expert Kerry Hannon recently said this in an article that appeared in USA Today: "People go into mourning when they retire. Your whole identity is caught up in who you are and what you did."

I'm guessing many Boomers, especially professionals, can relate to Kerry's claim. Those of us who toil for decades in the same career reach a significant point of conflict as we enter our Sixties. Some Boomers cannot see retiring from a career that is so much a part of them, while others may be anxious to try something different but fear the unknown. If your career has defined you, what happens to you when you leave your career?

There is life after a professional career. Part of it is realizing there is a person underneath, not just a professional, who has interests, desires, and skills that may be applicable to other areas. Hannon says, "You're not reinventing yourself, you're redeploying. Maybe you're taking what you're good at and redeploying into a new arena."

Hannon suggests that Boomers who want to continue to work beyond retirement age (and research indicates almost half of us do) prepare for a post-retirement career. She advises a five-year plan to ready yourself for a new challenge. That's critical, writes Hannon, "because it'll give you time to test your new career direction, be it through volunteering or converting a hobby into a stream of income."

Her steps, which are described in the article, include soul-searching, doing a test drive, networking, researching, and getting your finances in order. This is smart advice; most Boomers prepared for their careers, so why not prepare for post-careers? Retirement planning is not limited to finances -- it also involves life and second career planning.

Read the full USA Today article, "Here's the New Retirement Goal: Love Your Job and Keep Working."