By Jill L. Ferguson
Over the coming decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people 65 and older will be the hottest demographic in the labor market, with labor force participation predicted to hit 32 percent by 2022. Many of these workers will not be in traditional full-time employment, but will work as contractors or as part of the gig economy.
Californian George Kyle, 75, is one such example. Kyle had a robust and fulfilling career that began in 1969 when he started teaching German and French at the junior and high school levels. After getting a second master’s degree, he started teaching in 1979, running a new college’s art department, and he retired from there in 2004. For years, in addition to his full-time job, Kyle had side-gig employment as a fine artist who painted for passion, for commissions and for gallery shows, and he kept doing this work past retirement, as well as taking on private lesson art students and running monthly full-day art workshops.
We Enjoy the Work
Kyle said that teaching and artwork, “gets the juices flowing and energizes me. It is social, creative and supportive. I don’t have to do it for the money, but I enjoy it.”
We Have Skills to Share
And while some people are participating in the freelance economy because they need the money, others are doing it for a wealth of reasons (not all of which are mutually exclusive). Bob Kaczor, 80, retired from the finance department of a major U.S. airline many years ago, but he knew he had much to give to others and skills that could be utilized. Shortly after retirement, he started tutoring local elementary and middle school children in math and reading once per week. Kaczor was pleased to see many of his tutees go on to and graduate from college.
We Get a Great Offer
Others have been called back by the companies from which they were retired to work as contractors (who fill out a W-9 and receive a 1099 at the end of the fiscal year) for special projects. This can be beneficial for the company because they are familiar with the expertise and work ethic of their retirees and for the retirees because contractors tend to be paid at much higher rates than employees (since the contractor pays his/her own taxes, insurance, etc.).
We Want the Write-Offs
Some people start side businesses or become contractors because they would like more tax write-offs. For example, drivers for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and other driving and car sharing programs can deduct the actual expenses for gas, oil changes, repairs, insurance, maintenance and depreciation and/or lease payments (pro-rated if your car is both personal and used for your business), according to Intuit’s TurboTax. Similar deductions can be taken for those who are self-employed dog walkers, babysitters, food delivery people and others who work as contractors for app-based businesses.
We Want to Fill Some Time
For 13 years I was a full-time professor who moonlighted as a consultant, writer and artist. Every May, after working 40 to 60 hours per week all school year, classes ended and I felt a big STOP and let down. I walked around the house a bit aimlessly for the first two weeks, trying to get my bearings. Retirement can feel like that, too. We’re so used to contributing and the routine and the go, go, go, that when it comes to a halt it can be jarring and a bit depressing. And this is a major reason retirees find a part-time job, become a greeter at a big box store or find a regular freelance gig: to fill the empty hours.
We Want to Engage with Others
As George Kyle said, teaching painting for him is social. A freelance or contract job, whether it is as a journalist, a mystery shopper, life or business coach, musician, artist, massage therapist, herbalist or whatever causes us to interact with and meet new people, to continue growing and learning, to be engaged with life. Along with providing additional money, interacting with others may be a freelance jobs best benefit.