Ways to Retire and Thrive in the Gig Economy


Retire? Yes. Keep working? Yes. (Just not the way you did before you retired.)

Americans are now working longer than any generation of the past 75 years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for the first time (since it began tracking these stats), the average age of retirement is no longer in decline, but rising. (It’s currently age 63.ii) Perhaps more importantly, a full 75 percent of people are planning to work in some capacity after the age of 65.iii

But here’s the catch: we’re not continuing to work at our careers, and we’re not working full time, or strictly for the money. According to AARPiii, we’re working for the quality of life and to stay active and involved.

Finding substance to fill all those hours.

We are living longer, and therefore the duration of our retirement is significantly longer than 50 years ago. Today, a healthy 65-year-old woman has a 25 percent chance of living to age 96 (while it’s 93, for a man).iv

Retirees now view this chapter of their lives as “an opportunity for reinvention.”v People are clearly looking for more flexibility (73 percent report this as a priority), and, in support of this, a recent study found that working retirees are 3X more likely than pre-retirees to be entrepreneurs.vi

The “gig” and “freelance” economies.

What is the “gig economy”? Not everyone is cut out to run a business. In response, the gig economy provides work for thousands of people who complete projects or tasks, often coordinated through a digital marketplace, and who are subsequently paid for one project at a time. One recent study estimates that by 2020 as much as 40 percent of the U.S. economy could be comprised of independent workers with short-term contracts.vii

The gig economy can be a great opportunity for retirees looking to continue working. In fact, the private taxi service Uber recently brokered a partnership with AARP to tap into the 50-and older workforce. Today, nearly 1 in 4 Uber drivers are over the age of 50.

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