Shocking Statistics About People Over Age 55: The Encore Career

After reading the this morning’s Times discussion of new careers for people over age 55, I have the sense that I may have been living in la-la land for some time.  I had the suspicion that some in that category who lost their jobs in this recession were free-lancing, but I was unaware of how widespread this had become.  Working with execs, I was also aware that some took retirement buy-outs and started looking to either buyout a small company or build their own.  This is a different issue, not executive by-outs.  What’s going on today is not short-term, but structural.

Boomers past 55 years-of-age are retraining, going into different businesses and setting up their own.  As the Times article noted, a lot of these people have a lifetime of knowledge, skills and networking they’ve amassed, and it’s very easy to use all of that to start a business. 

The biggest surprise?  More than 5 million Americans run their own business or are otherwise self-employed.

A study by Babson College and Baruch College found that Americans age 55 and above started 18.9% of all businesses created in 2008, compared with 10% in 2001.  The 55-and-overs are playing a larger role in engtrepreneurship partly because the number of Americans in that age category is rising rapidly. 

My Boomer daughter put it to me this way.  “Dad,” she said, “Like me, work is your passion and your life.  So, whatever you do, don’t quit or retire!”

Here are the facts:  A lot of people are not semi-retired, but semi-working.  Go for it, baby!
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