Future Friday From the Archive: Will it be the older generations that drive the Gig economy, not the Millennials?

by Michael Haberman on July 7, 2017 · 2 comments


Not anywhere ready to retire!

Not anywhere ready to retire!

Since I am celebrating my birthday today I decided to pull from my archive of blog posts for today.

I revealed to someone the other day that I had turned 65 this past July. He asked me if I was retiring soon. I told him I had no intention of retiring. I have been working since I was 15 and I have held some job almost continually since then. Retirement would be boring.  Besides I am not doing anything that is breaking me down physically, I consult, I teach, I write, and I speak. As long as someone is willing to pay me to do that why should I quit? Even if I won a major lottery, which is not likely, I would still work at something. I am not made to be idle, though I might take more days off. I read something today that made me think that I may not be all that unusual.

Seniors driving two of the largest economies in the world

I read a report today that said that the economies of India and China are increasingly being driven by people 65 and older. The report said:

  • The total number of economically active population in India in 2000 was 398 million and in 2015 this grew to 522 million, representing an absolute growth of 124 million;
  • The economically active population in China in 2000 was 740 million while in 2015 this figure rose to 800 million, equaling a growth of 60 million;
  • The number of economically active people aged 65 and above in India was 6.2 million in 2000 and 35.6 in 2015
  • In China it was 20.9 million in 2000 which rose to 42.7 million in 2015;
  • The absolute growth in the economically active population aged 65+ in India was 29.4 million and in China it equaled 21.8 million;
  • The growth in the 65+ age bracket as a percentage of the total growth in the economically active population equaled 23.8% in India and 36.5% in China.

Clearly these economies are being significantly altered by older populations and those numbers will continue to be added to in the coming years.

The US population

The U.S. population is also soaring. By the year 2020 ( a mere 3.5 years away) the population 65+ will be 54.8 million according to the Administration for Community Living. I know from personal experience that many of the people in this age bracket want to continue to work but often don’t have the opportunity. Ageism is still rampant in American business and older workers are let go or are offered early retirements. These seniors find that they are not ready to retire and they start looking for “gig” employment to supplement their retirement. According to Time writer Katy Steinmetz Uber has recognized this and has a program to reach older workers who are interested in being drivers. There are numerous such opportunities.

Is it the “oldsters” driving the gig economy?

This combination of circumstances that made me think perhaps we are focusing on the wrong population segment as the drivers of the gig economy. Perhaps it is not the Millennials or the upcoming Gen Z cohort that is doing gig work but it is the seniors in the population that create new work and take on mundane tasks?

What do you think? Have you seen any evidence of this? What are your parents doing? I know that I am going to keep going!


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Gregory September 2, 2016 at 8:20 am

Your piece about older workers and the GIG work really resonates with me. It has been on my mind. We “Boomers” have been through a lot in our work lives. We have learned to re calibrate and improvise as we’ve worked toward what ever we consider a retirement to be.

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Michael Haberman September 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

Thanks for the comment Rebecca. You are correct about the recalibration.

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