While many are looking for work, some older workers are jumping at the chance for a new start

You may have heard: Meghan McCain is leaving ABC’s “The View” after nearly four years. Among her reasons for leaving her job was COVID-19 “Changed the world for all of us,” she told the Guardian. “It has changed the way I see my life, the way I’m living it, the way I want my life to look.”

Few of us have the net worth or name recognition of Meghan McCain, who is 36 years old.

Record numbers of workers are part of what has been dubbed the “Great Escape” or “The Great Resignation,” as economies emerge from the pandemic. If a recent Microsoft
+ 1.23%

survey even close to the point, 41% of the global workforce plan to say goodbye to their employers and co-workers this year.

Many of quitters are, and will be, persons 50 years of age or older. Some give greener pastures at other employers or venture firms they are starting; others to retire.

The recent explosion of email farewells and virtual goodbye gatherings across the US reflects workers’ belief that the US economic recovery is strong enough for them to be willing to take the risk. risk and leave his job.

The need for workers means options for some

Their timing is savvy considering how strong the demand for workers is.

Companies are struggling to find talent, and that’s the definition of a good market for anyone who wants to voluntarily change jobs. In general, household finances also appear to be unusually supportive of job search financing. Economists estimate Americans have accumulated more than $2 trillion in savings during the pandemic, though they are quick to add that many are struggling.

Seasoned workers with retirement savings plans have recently performed well because the market is strong and 401(k) contributions have remained relatively stable. Home values ​​have also surged during the pandemic in many places, and older Americans tend to be homeowners.

“In a world where workers have little power, quitting is the only bargaining chip they have,” said Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Studies at Boston University. . And, he adds, many older workers “have something they want to do for a while” — be it starting a business, pursuing a passion or retiring.

However, something else is working.

Over the past two decades, a combination of stagnant wages and job insecurity has led many to quit while older workers are increasingly concerned about age discrimination.

See: These workers will quit, but worry about losing health care

The ‘short life’ phenomenon at work

But the social isolation so many people have endured during the pandemic and the trauma following the murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer has caused many to rethink and re-imagine what they are doing with their lives. life and work.

With so many changes over the past year, employees are re-evaluating their priorities, their family base, and their entire lives, the Microsoft report said. “So whether it’s due to less networking or career advancement opportunities, a new call, pent-up demand, or a host of pandemic-related struggles, many people are considering their next move.”

Among those considering their next move is Nancy Collamer’s client. A retired coach from Pennsylvania and a popular Next Avenue contributor, Collamer has heard from people looking for help figuring out their next chapter.

A motivated longtime volunteer who lost her husband (not from COVID-19) during the pandemic. The combination of his death and the coronavirus cloud convinced the woman that life is fleeting and things can change a dime. Now, she wants to find a more purposeful path with her volunteer work.

One Collamer client in the financial services industry realized how much he enjoyed being with his family during a pandemic. Now, he is afraid of going on a business trip and is looking for a job change, possibly a career change.

“A common theme is that the pandemic has given them time to pause and think about what they want to do with their lives,” Collamer said.

Change jobs and work longer

Sure, money isn’t an obstacle for her clients. However, for anyone who can make the leap, there is interesting evidence that voluntary job changes among late workers will prolong their working hours.

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Conducted research by Sanzenbacher, Steven Sass and Christopher Gillis at the Center for Retirement Research. They looked at the voluntary job change of workers aged 51 to 61 from 1992 to 2012 and followed them up to age 65. They found that voluntary job change was associated with 9.1% increase in likelihood of continuing to enter the labor force until age 65.

The impact is held for different socioeconomic groups. For those with at least some college, the increase was 10.9% and for those with a high school degree or less it was 7.5%.

“If you’re leaving an employer for better pay or because you like the job better, both are good,” says Sanzenbacher.

The increase in risk-taking reflected in the so-called “retirement rate” has also appeared in new business start-ups.

University of Maryland economist John Haltiwanger noted in a recent paper that the pace of new business applications since mid-2020 has been the highest on record (though the sequence only goes back to 2004).

He added that things are vastly different from the economic trauma many felt decades ago when entrepreneurship waned during the 2007-09 recession.

The Kauffman Foundation, which researches entrepreneurship, has also seen a dramatic increase in startup activity in 2020. The majority of new entrepreneurs, Kauffman said, are 45 years old or older.

To be sure, the pandemic means that the number of new entrepreneurs finding it necessary to start a business just to pay their bills has at least reached a 25-year high.

New business: for passion and paying bills

Robert Fairlie, an economist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says: “Individuals started out as an opportunity, rather than a necessity, that went downhill for everyone.

However, you don’t risk starting a business unless you believe there is an opportunity to do it – a reasonable bet these days for middle-aged entrepreneurs.

“The data shows that older entrepreneurs have the assets and knowledge base to succeed,” said Susan Weinstock, vice president of financial resilience at AARP. “I think we’re going to see more small businesses founded by older workers.”

Despite some challenges, the US economic recovery is on track to become one of the fastest and strongest in history. If that’s the case, now is the time to think about making a late career switch or starting your own business.

As former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers once wrote, a good economy is when “companies chase workers rather than workers after jobs.” That is certainly the case today.

When deciding your next path, Collamer says, you should think through two key questions: “Who or what energizes you? And who or what exhausts you? “

Now is a good point in this column to pause and reflect on what is going on with the US job market and what experienced workers are facing.

Out of the pandemic, the increase in people voluntarily quitting their jobs and starting a second life business is mostly positive. However, other parts of the job market are worrisome.

More than half of job seekers aged 55 and older were long-term unemployed in June, meaning they had been looking for work for at least six months. The longer someone has been unemployed, the harder it is to get another job – and that was before ageism took effect.

Uncertainty also revolves around the sharp rise in retirees in the last year.

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According to the Pew Research Center, there were 3.2 million more boomers retiring in the third quarter of 2020 compared with 2019, and many of them by choice. The COVID-19 economy makes it much harder for older workers living on low and unstable incomes than their high-income peers.

“There’s a lot of confounding factors to what’s going on here as the economy is opening up and people are going back to work,” Weinstock said.

Many questions about the status of older workers will not be known for at least another year, if not more. But for those who We can re-imagine their lives, economic recovery is a time of opportunity to seek the purpose they have discovered in isolation.

Chris Farrell is a senior economic associate for the US Public Communications Market. An award-winning journalist, he is the author
of “Purpose and Salary: Finding Meaning, Money, and Happiness in the Second Half of Life” and “Tireless: Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think about Work, Community and good life.

This article is republished with permission of NextAvenue.org, © 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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