Freelance Forever?

May 30, 2007

Two articles this week, in the New York Times and LA Times, about a phenomenon sure to affect freelancers: the extended working life. The LA Times says "After falling for more than 100 years, the retirement age chosen by working Americans is edging up once again..." rising from 60 to 62 in just 10 years. Like so many new workplace realities, this one is good news-bad news. The bad news? Fewer defined-benefit pensions and puny 401(k) balances are driving people to stay at their jobs for financial reasons. The good news? Many knowledge workers love their jobs too much to ever quit (my parents, both creative writers, fall into this category, and I aspire to as well).

As the NYT points out, employers are still adjusting to the availability of older job seekers, and it can take older people longer to find a new job, much less one that uses their talents and respects their contributions. I don't doubt that many independent workers are folks on their second and third careers for this very reason. But I wish that more of us made a religion out of retirement savings, and/or had the option to buy into group savings plans--you shouldn't have to be commuting at 85 unless you really want to.