Changing the Face of Retirement

This article about retirement by guest author Kathy Szpakowski emphasizes the bold new wave of baby boomers who are jumping into home business endeavors and pursuing other valuable opportunities, rather than spending their "golden years" in what used to be perceived of as retirement.

I am a baby boomer myself, and the emphasis that's put on "early retirement" for our segment of the population never ceases to amaze me. While the fact remains that out of necessity, some of us will work beyond the mandatory retirement age of 65, a very large number of us will make the choice to be employed in some way well beyond the expected and traditional retirement age. According to statistics, we are a group of bright, intellectually savvy, and educated individuals. As we enter the golden years of our retirement, can we expect to continue to make a difference? Of course we can!

In fact, there is a bold new wave of baby boomer entrepreneurs who are starting a business. For some, the organizations they previously worked for are now willing to pay for their expertise on an outsourced basis and are their best clients. For other boomers, it is a good time to do something they always wanted to do but they either didn't want to take the risk while raising their families, or didn't have time for in the past.

Some of the facts listed below may surprise you. Please take a moment (especially if you are a boomer), and see if you can relate to any of these statistics:

  • Baby boomers are better educated than previous generations. They are much more willing and able to take on the challenges of continued employment in a diverse work environment

  • Among boomers, ages 55-59, thirty percent have a bachelor's degree or higher, which, according to Census Bureau statistics, is up twenty-five percent from just six years ago.

  • Older baby boomers, as well as those who are now in their 60's and 70's, have also shown an inclination towards continuing education. The latest Department of Education statistics demonstrate that there is a 23% increase in the number of Americans between the ages of 45 and 69 enrolled in adult education classes, from 22.6 million in 1995 to 27.9 million in 1999.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the number of Americans categorized as self-employed in non-agricultural industries, ages 55 to 64, has increased 29%, up from 1,434,000 in July, 2000, to 1,846,000 as of July, 2005. The number of self-employed age 65 and older has grown 18%, up from 641,000 in 2000 to its current level of 756,000.

  • Late boomers - those 45 to 54 years of age - make up 27%, or nearly 2.6 million, of the nation's 9.6 million self-employed.

  • Boomer-and-older entrepreneurs now make up 54% of self-employed workers, which has increased from 48.5 percent in 2000.

While self-employment was falling or stagnant for almost every other age group, it was expanding among boomers and older workers. In 2000, 35-44 year-olds were the largest group of self-employed workers, numbering 2,790,000. Presently, their numbers have fallen 15% to 2,359,000. At the same time, self-employment among 25-34 year-olds has risen by only 1%.

So what does this tell us? This tells us to never underestimate our generation's impact on changing the face of retirement. Between 1946 and 1964, there were almost 76 million Baby Boomers who were born after World War II. This represents the single largest demographic group in the United States. You and I are a part of the future and we can have a profound impact on the economy, both from the perspective of creating new jobs and by the decreased tax burden that we can represent to the labor force; not to mention the self-satisfaction we can achieve by doing something that is motivating, exciting, and rewarding. Go Boomers!

(Sources: Dept. of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.)

Kathy Szpakowski is a proud baby boomer and an author, speaker, radio personality, trainer, consultant, business coach, and successful business owner, who understands how people of all ages work and live, what they value, what motivates them, and ultimately, what makes them tick.

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