Retirees and senior citizens often struggle to keep up with their bills while living on a fixed income, so they are working. Others want to stay active in the community, or challenge themselves mentally…so they are staying employed as well. The gig economy is one way for them to get a flexible job to both bring in a few extra dollars per month and to help them stay active in their local community.
There have been multiple studies down on this issue, and some show less than 20% participation rate and other surveys show higher rates. The sources range from CBS Marketwatch data to Harvard studies, Hearts and Wallets, careerbuilder, Linkedin, and many others. So while determining the exact percentage of retirees that may be in the gig economy is challenging (and it certainly changes monthly), the point is that the percentage is increasing at a fairly rapid rate. And there may be no end in sight.
There are many reasons that senior citizens are turning to gig economy jobs. They range from the ability to make a few extra dollars to the fact working can combat isolation as well as loneliness. Those tend to be the two leading reasons. But there may be many others, such as keeping an income so they can put off social security payments, older generation recovering from increasing divorce rates of seniors, and more.
While 20% is a commonly cited figure from the press and survey sites, when looking at some of the data supplied by individual companies that percentage seems to be low. For example Airbnb shows senior host rates are increasing about 100% year over year. And with 13% of the hosts being seniors in last year reports, the number for 2017 is bound to be much higher.
In 2015 Uber reported that about 25% of its drivers were over the age of 50, and that percentage was also increasing at rapid rates. So this leading gig economy company has already greatly exceeded the 20% figure. Uber is bond to have a much higher percentage now.
Additional part time programs for seniors
While the ~20% of seniors that are active in the gig economy do have some pros associated to it (such as flexibility), there are often cons too (such as low wages). Senior citizens do not need to reply on a flexible, gig type role driving for Uber or working for Task Rabbit. They can still get more stable either part time or even full time jobs, and this is even more achievable with the strong job market in place.
One resource they can turn to is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which is a training and also employment program. The retiree could be placed at a local organization or even a non-profit where they can learn new skills and get an income at the same time. Some people that are enrolled to SCSEP even can get benefits, such as basic health insurance.
Two benefits of SCSEP over the gig economy this is that there are minimum wages that come into play. As the senior citizen is entitled to the higher of state, local, or national wages. There is also a minimum hour component to this, which will normally be 20 hours. So while an Uber driver may or many not work for a period of time, the Senior Community Service Employment Program is a little more stable, those guaranteeing an income so an unemployed retiree.
The bottom line to retiree incomes
With the cost of health care, housing and really everything going up, it is more and more of a struggle for a retiree to keep up with all of their living expenses. So whether they want to join the gig economy, a service such as SCSEP, or just keeping working even later at their current job before retiring, there are thankfully more options out there for them.