Are you 50 and older, need a good full-time job, but don’t have one?
That’s the current situation for millions of Americans; and the job-seeking has become steeper and much harder. Many workers in their 50s and 60s are drifting in and out of unemployment, underemployment and retirement.
According to Sara Rix, senior strategist at the AARP Public Policy Institute, “The situation is worse today than it has been in past recoveries. These men and women have little time to recover, and working later in life may be the only way some can make it.”
Older workers may remain jobless (on average) for about a year, far longer than younger workers; almost half of those over 55 who are unemployed have been so for six months or longer, a total of 761,000 people. The number of over-55s who have dropped out of the work force but still want a job is about 1.6 million.
And there’s also a long-standing bias against the long-term unemployed (jobless for months or years).
For decades, older workers usually moved into “bridge jobs” between their careers and retirement, said Kevin Cahill, economist at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. But today, those jobs are less desirable; older workers often end up in bridge jobs they didn’t want.
The best-off Americans in retirement are the 36 percent who get income from a pension. But this particular share of workers has shrunk; those who took retirement in recent years often accepted a deal with a lesser pension.
The problems of older workers are a combination of circumstances they can control and circumstances that they can’t. 64 percent say they’ve either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, but due to a weak job market and entrenched bias against hiring long-term employed, their “hands are tied.”
“There’s this perception that if you’ve been out of work for seven months (or more), there must be something wrong with you,” stated Rix. “And older workers don’t always have a young person’s freedom to relocate for a job, so they spend more time unemployed before giving up“, Rix further added.
Shaking Legal Tech
Technology has been making rapid inroads into the $200 billion U.S. legal field, shaking up a long-established, traditional industry. And many law firms are already adapting, with the downsizing of some and the collapse of several major ones clients want more flexibility and an alternative to the traditional billing by the hour).
Industry experts say the legal profession is ripe for new social media innovations and smartphone/tablet apps, like Shake, a smartphone application that guides you through the process of creating easy-to-read contracts (customers can sign them with just a swipe of their fingers on the screen). Launched in September 2013, Shake provides options to create six types of contracts (such as renting, freelancing and lending money); the app walks its users through a series of questions and automatically fills in an agreement without all the “legalese”.
“It’s like ‘Turbotax’ for the law,” said Shake founder and chief executive Abe Geiger.
Geiger was inspired to create Shake after seeing the inefficiency of law firms, as well as increased demand for legal services by the growing ranks of freelancers and entrepreneurs. Once ignored by the legal industry (but not for much longer), experts say this demand is an estimated $45 billion “latent” market.
Sources: “Working against time”-Star Tribune (Minneapolis)-The (Sunday) Vindicator, February 16, 2014 and “Bringing legal advice to the masses”-Los Angeles Times-The (Sunday) Vindicator, February, 23, 2014