Earlier this month I blogged about the growing number of Baby Boomers who are exiting one career to start something totally new. While many of these Boomers do so because they are seeking a more rewarding way to spend their final decade or two in the workforce, others are making the leap out of sheer necessity.
Despite the Age Discrimination Act, once an older worker is unemployed, he remains jobless for longer periods than his younger counterparts. In 2012-2013, the average duration of unemployment for older people was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for teenagers.
In a PBS Newshour broadcast, Economist Alicia Munnell commented that employers worry about the older applicants’ “ability to learn new things, about their physical stamina and basically how long are they going to stay.”
This would explain why those who do find work often take jobs which pay far less than the salaries they were earning before. In the face of unemployment and underemployment, a growing number of Americans over age fifty are showing resilience by starting businesses of their own. In fact, people aged 55 to 64 started nearly a quarter of all new businesses in the US in 2012.
If you or someone you’re close to is thinking about starting a business, The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) “has a number of resources and tools to help encore entrepreneurs effectively prepare for starting and running a small business, including business planning, mentoring and financial assistance.” It also works with numerous local partners throughout the country “to counsel, mentor, and train small businesses.” Enter your zip code to connect with an SBA Office and local resources in your area. In addition, the SBA offers a free online course for entrepreneurs age fifty and older.
Hungry for more? The Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP) is currently hosting an online Encore Entrepreneurship Webinar Series. Or check out the video-series The Khan Academy has put together in which successful entrepreneurs share personal lessons and insights.
You can find a descriptive list of additional resources, on my earlier post about Baby Boomers shifting gears and starting whole new careers.
As Tim Devaney and Tom Stein put it in their Forbes.com article Encore Entrepreneurs: Big Dreams for Small Business Owners, “Fifty is not the new 40. It’s not even the new 30. For an increasing number of Americans, 50 is the new 20, a time to decide what they want to do with the rest of their life.”
Are you one of those people?