More baby boomers turning to the gig economy, but don’t necessarily like it

It’s not just millennials who are embracing the gig economy – baby boomers are too, but they don’t necessarily like it.

BMO Wealth Management released a report Monday that said more and more baby boomers are turning to contract work because they feel “joining the gig economy is their only way of making a living.”

The report describes Canada’s labour market shifting from permanent employment to on-demand temporary or contractual employment as “the new normal” – and the challenges and opportunities within this so-called “gig economy.”

The Gig Economy: Achieving Financial Wellness with Confidence is based on a survey of more than 1,000 Canadian small-business owners. They revealed 40 per cent had or currently worked as self-employed professionals pursuing contract or freelance project-based careers.

However, most reported that while contract work offers a certain level of autonomy, it comes with serious worries, such as 87 fearing life without any medical, dental or disability benefits. The report found 57% are concerned about no paid sick days and 57% feel they are not earning enough.

Other results include:

  • Most small business owners became self-employed by choice (60%).
  • Of all the respondents, 40% identified as being part of gig economy now or in the past.
  • Popular reasons for taking contract work: to have autonomy and control (49%); make extra money on the side (49%); balance career and family needs (42%); or because it was the only way to make an income (27%).
  • More Boomers were likely to value autonomy and control when taking freelance jobs (70%) or felt it was the only option at this stage to earn income (35%).
  • Generation Xers valued balancing career and family needs more than other groups (52%).
  • Millennials were more inclined to work in the gig economy to make extra money on the side (53%), or until they found a better job (30%).



Relax, Boomers: Socialism Is Good Now

It’s a shame that Merwin K. Hart’s life has drifted into obscurity, because in his prime he was a real dazzler, one of the brightest stars from the Golden Age of American Paranoia.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Hart ran an organization called The National Economic Council. Neither a government agency nor a laboratory for research, the NEC served as a propaganda funnel for the anxieties of the postwar corporate elite. Men of fortune, like the du Ponts (chemical magnates) and the Pews (of Charitable Trust fanfare) would turn over large sums of money to Hart, who would in turn blast out warnings about the “three million” immigrants who had entered the country “illegally” at the close of World War II, causing a “housing shortage.” Or the “deceit” of international Jewry. Or the hidden subversive content in certain college textbooks.

Hart’s favorite freakout was socialism, and how terrifyingly close the United States was to a socialist dystopia. “Our country grew great through freedom,” he warned hundreds of university trustees in 1948. “Do we want the United States to drift into a Socialism like that of Britain ― which many of us feel is only a transitory stop on the road to State Absolutism such as that of Russia?” Once upon a time, England and the Soviet Union were considered comparable evils on the American right.

The Baby Boomers are the worst American generation since Reconstruction, but they had many reasons to turn out this way. The Boomers were raised in a political culture dominated by madmen, their minds warped at an early age. For decades, Boomers saw the term “socialism” deployed not to denote a set of economic policies, but to conjure a vague, foreign horror. Accustomed to this nomenclature, Boomers have reacted with fright or at least confusion to the terminology of today’s American left, which has embraced the “socialist” label more widely than any domestic political movement in living memory. But the Boomers need to relax. Socialism is good now.

Socialism is not a static, concrete ideology. It is a word whose meaning has long been rendered flexible by decades of political bombardment. It was even hard to pin down Karl Marx on a practical definition. For libertarian economist Milton Friedman, progressive taxation was synonymous with socialism. For Hart, socialism was the British National Health Service. The late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), saw socialism and racial integration as inseparable, and denounced the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a celebration of “communism, socialism and sex perversion.”

You get the idea: much of what conservatives decried as “socialist” in the 20th century today enjoys broad support among liberals, leftists and even many conservatives.

This is because conservative thinkers of the time chiefly used the word “socialism” not to prosecute the Cold War, but to attack the Democratic Party. Something Democrats said was good was actually very bad, because it was socialist ― and “socialist” was the second “S” in U.S.S.R., after all. This simple rhetorical trick diverted arguments about popular ideas into a referendum on gulags, thought police and nuclear annihilation.

But socialism lost its sting at the end of the Cold War. In 2009, when Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) told a reporter he had a secret list of 17 “socialists” then working in Congress, the Beltway press and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responded not with McCarthy-era outrage but gentle amusement. When Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) called same-sex marriage a socialist plot that same year, he couldn’t even convince conservative Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Millennials are the first generation to come of age without all of this Cold War brain baggage. They also entered adulthood around the 2008 financial crisis, a period in which the word “capitalism” was having a rough go: double-digit unemployment, mass foreclosures, unaffordable rent, crushing student debt, deepening economic inequality, bailed-out bankers swallowing six-figure bonuses, tech billionaires who literally can’t figure out how to give away their money.

Plenty of reformers have insisted that these signs of social breakdown were offenses against capitalism rather than products of capitalism. But they are losing the semantic battle. Polling in recent years has consistently shown a majority of millennials are enthusiastic about “socialism,” often preferring it to “capitalism.” For millennials, “capitalism” means “unaccountable rich people ripping off the world,” while “socialism” simply means “not that.”

Indeed, when the newest star on the left, soon-to-be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York discusses her vision for “democratic socialism,” her agenda sounds a lot like old-school New Deal liberalism, or basic, functional, small-d democracy.

“In a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live,” Ocasio-Cortez told NBC’s Chuck Todd earlier this month. “Every working-class American in this country should have access to dignified health care, should actually be able to see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose, and no person should feel precarious or unstable in their access to housing.”

No gulags, just dignity. Boomers of the world, calm down. You have nothing to lose but some words.

Researchers emphasize need for baby boomers to get tested for hepatitis C

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 300 million people across the globe are unaware they’re living with viral hepatitis. In fact, baby boomers-;those born between 1945-1965-;are five times more likely to have hepatitis C, one of the many different strains of this viral infection.

Unlike other types of hepatitis, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The exact reason hepatitis C is most prevalent in baby boomers is unknown, although transmission of the virus primarily through blood was highest before strong infection control procedures were adopted.

“Many people don’t know how or when they were infected, and you can live decades without symptoms,” says Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Michael Curry, MD, Section Chief, Hepatology. “If left untreated, hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver, which slows down blood flow that’s crucial for liver function. By the time symptoms do appear, the damage is usually advanced. That’s why testing is so important.”

In addition to causing scarring (cirrhosis), two out of every three liver cancers are caused by hepatitis.

The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is a blood test, called a hepatitis C antibody test. “The test looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. Once someone is infected, there will always be antibodies in their blood,” Curry says.

For decades, the most common treatment for hepatitis C was a series of painful shots, sometimes year-long process with chemo-like side effects.

Treatment for hepatitis C is now on the cutting-edge of medicine. “It’s curable,” Curry says. “The treatments are highly effective and in most cases, are accomplished in 8-12 weeks.”

These new medications are called direct-acting antivirals that attack the virus head on. Physicians at BIDMC’s Liver Center are recognized leaders in the development of these treatments.

“Each medication is different, but they remove all traces of the virus from your blood within three months,” says Curry. “This is called sustained virologic response, and it’s what your doctors look for to tell you if you’re cured.”

Note to fellow baby boomers: We messed up

I read an article some days ago regarding the contributions my generation has made toward the advancement of science, humanity, general knowledge and progress. The author went to great lengths to explore the “deeds” of baby boomers and recognize our efforts which have contributed to our quality of life. I’ve since given a good deal of thought as to some of our more “questionable,” if not downright shameful, “contributions.”

It was our generation that “discovered” that if we’d sit our young children in front of a television, they’d remain quiet and mesmerized for hours. We called it the “electric babysitter,” substituting, of course, for parental care, contact and personal communication.

It was also our generation that began the practice of creating latch-key kids. Our children locked themselves in their homes after school, a period void of interpersonal contact.

As our children grew older, we began sending them to their rooms to “study” and then ignored them as long as they kept the volume down on their television sets and stereos.

Thereafter, it was all about the shopping mall. We began dropping our young people at the local mall, passing off our parental responsibilities to mall security. We justified that practice by “buying in” to their excuse that all the other parents allowed their children to hang out there, too. If you really “cared about them,” we reasoned, “you gave them money to chunk into arcade games.” It was no big deal. If it got them out of the house, after all.

With the advent of the Internet, I feel truly justified in passing the “Torch of Shame” to the next generation of parents.

On the occasion that the 9-year old and the 6-year old are not deeply and emotionally involved with their own “electronic Internet devices” and sense some genuine need to consult with a parent, they could talk with their Daddy but they hesitate to bother him. He’s on the deck with his iPad, involved with his e-mail. They could go to their Mommy but she’s in the den, deep into Facebook and they don’t want to bother her.

All the foregoing being said — and you know it’s the blessed truth — we find ourselves wondering what’s happening around us. There are nonsensical murders of people unknown to the perpetrators, unprovoked violence among strangers, words “inflicted” among each other with out any concern for each other’s feelings and a broad lack of empathy as though we were throwing hurtful insults against a wall instead of a fellow human being with feelings.

What have we become?

Pete Collyge, Baltimore

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Terms of Service Violation

Terms of Service Violation

An open letter to millennials from a Jewish baby boomer

They used to write about us when I was your age with endless articles in Time and Newsweek marveling at how different we were from “the establishment” with our distrust of the older generation, iconoclastic politics, demonstrating for civil and women’s rights, questioning of sexual mores and marrying later in life. We were the “baby boomers,” with spreads in Life or Look picturing us in denim jackets and miniskirts, long or floral bedecked hair, and sandals and frayed jeans. We were being exhibited much like features in National Geographic showing a newly discovered tribe in a remote part of the world.

These memories come back to me as I follow endless articles about your generation. You not only don’t trust the older generation, but according to a recent survey, 80 percent of you don’t trust anyone. You advocate for myriad causes, but you disdain politics and many of you don’t vote. You are marrying even later in life or not marrying at all. You may not be questioning sexual mores, but rather finding additional mores to question. You are the “millennials,” whose lives are transported through the internet and social media with magazines, style sections of newspapers and television commercials taken with your presence. 

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Why Different Generations Are Drawn to the Rising Gig Economy

The labor market has shifted. What used to be characterized by stable, permanent employment and few employers per individual is now a tumultuous string of contracted, temporary jobs. Gigs, or “jobs of short or uncertain duration” are the new norm, and on-demand and freelance work are the name of the gig game.

BMO Wealth Management published the results of a survey they commissioned to learn more about this new gig economy today. The findings give insight into the benefits, challenges, and perspectives of different generations and companies on the gig economy. The report then uses the data collected to suggest ways that this flexible workforce can succeed financially.

Employers across every industry use contracted gigs to fill skill and work gaps within their companies. Highly skilled specialists excel in an economy like this and are often hired on temporarily to supplement permanent staff. These contracted workers often use apps like Fiverr, TaskRabbit, and Handy to connect them with paying jobs.

The study cites data from a Ranstad US report predicting that as much as 50% of the workforce could be participating in the gig economy by 2019. About 68% of the companies surveyed in that same report said they saw “an increasing move to an ‘agile workforce’ over the next few years.”

A diverse range of ages participate in contracted work, which has contributed to the growth of this labor force. The top reasons that people chose to work in the gig economy varied by generation. About 52% of Baby Boomers cited balancing career and family needs while 58% of Gen Xers and 55% of Millennials wanted to make extra money on the side. The majority of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers also said they began working in a gig capacity to balance career and family needs.

The generations also encounter different hardships as gig workers. Every generation’s biggest challenge is the lack of benefits that accompany jobs like this, though Boomers were most likely (77%) to feel that fear, “which may reflect the increasing risk of disability or illness as one ages.” Boomers, however, may have more savings due to a longer amount of time in the workforce to save, leading them (37%) to fear not getting paid when sick far less than Gen Xers (47%), and Millennials (53%).

To combat fluctuating income, lack of benefits, and ineligibility for employer retirement plans, BMO made several suggestions to freelancers at the end of the report, ranging from “make a business plan” to “consider liability insurance.”

Baby boomers make more money than millennials in all 50 states

(Pexels photo)

Though millennials are no longer children, they still tend to make much less money nationally than older generations.

That’s according to a study from Business Insider, which analyzed 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data to find the median income among full-time employees in three generations. It compared millennials (ages ranged from 20-35 in 2016), Generation X (36 to 51) and baby boomers (52 to 70).

Millennials made less money on average than the other two generations in every state, plus Washington, D.C.

In most cases, baby boomers also made more than Gen Xers.

The wage gap between baby boomers and millenials fluctuated wildly between states.

In Arizona, average boomers made 58 percent more than millenials.

Millenials made an average of $33,000 in Arizona. Gen Xers make $50,000 and baby boomers are slightly above that, at 52 percent.

The difference between all three is much greater in Alaska. Millennials make $40,000 on average, Gen Xers make $64,200 and baby boomers were at $76,500.

The average baby boomer salary is 91 percent greater than that of a millennial.

That number ranged from 25 percent in Washington, D.C., to 91 percent in Alaska.

Washington D.C. was at the other end of the spectrum. The average baby boomer made $75,000, which was  25 percent more than an average millennial ($60,000). That’s a smaller difference than any state.

Almost as rare was the salary for Gen X. They averaged $90,000, which was 20 percent more than what baby boomers made.

Banks Draw Baby Boomers in to P2P Services

So we all know that younger millennials are rabid users of P2P apps.  Mercator Advisory Group survey data shows a surprising number of millennials use a P2P payments nearly every day. As P2P moves mainstream, more consumer from older age groups are becoming frequent users as well.  Where all age groups may be using P2P, their motivations may be different, which plays into how providers may want to think about promoting the product to more users.  eMarketer provides some more detail on the topic in a recently released report with data from Early Warning, the provider of bank-based P2P product Zelle:

While mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps may have first found popularity with millennials as a way to split joint utility bills and bar tabs, adoption has also spread to older generations.

According to an April survey of over 9,000 US internet users by Early Warning Services, the owner of P2P service Zelle, some 75% of millennials and 69% of Gen Xers use a P2P method to send or receive money from businesses, family or friends.

Surprisingly, baby boomers are not all that far behind, with about half saying they use a P2P payment method.

The survey asked consumers what influenced them to try P2P payments. For millennials and Gen Xers, recommendations from family and friends were the highest driver of use.

Older users, though, said they were more likely to try a P2P if the service was offered by a financial institution that they already used. Some 70% of boomers said this was a key driver, compared with just 35% of millennials.

Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

Baby Boomer Home Sales | Homeownership Demand

Will baby boomers turn into party poopers when they unload their homes in large numbers starting in the next decade? Could they create an indigestible oversupply in the market that lowers home prices and frustrates sales?

That’s a sobering scenario outlined by two new, provocative studies. One, from Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research group, warns that the “beginning of a mass exodus looms on the horizon,” where “homeownership demand from younger generations is insufficient to fill the void left by multitudes of departing older owners.” The net result: gluts in some local markets with potentially negative impacts.

A second study, from the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University, focuses on the Washington D.C. market and sees a similar problem ahead. “The significant number of older owners in relatively large homes may portend a ‘baby boomer sell-off’” in the D.C. region and elsewhere in the U.S., it reports. Some long-time owners “may have difficulty attaining the price gains they witnessed in their neighborhoods during recent years,” according to author Jeannette Chapman, the Fuller Institute’s deputy director.

Both studies cite demographic and housing data to make their cases. Boomers — the giant generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — own 32 million homes, two of every five in the country. The generations preceding them occupy another 14 million homes. Collectively their properties are valued around $13.5 trillion, according to the Fannie Mae study, co-authored by Patrick Simmons of the strategic research group and Dowell Myers, a professor at the University of Southern California.

All of these homeowners face key choices: Do we stay put, sell, downsize or move to a rental? At some point, the inevitable kicks in: health issues and death will force them to dispose of their properties.

Fannie’s study estimates that from 2016 to 2026, between 10.5 million and 11.9 million older owners will end their ownership status. Between 2026 and 2036, another 13.1 million to 14.6 million will do the same.

This massive and unprecedented generational unloading of houses could be “negative for the home sales market,” the Fannie study warns, because the upcoming generations of buyers may not have the financial capacity — or desire — to absorb the large numbers of homes coming to market. How much of a price hit to boomers’ and potentially other owners’ properties could occur can’t be predicted at this point, co-author Myers told me in an interview.

“It’s impossible” to forecast price impacts “10 years ahead,” he said. “We do not mean to be alarmists,” he added, but hope to spur discussion of the impending challenges and the need for public and private policies that might cushion the impacts. Among the possibilities: Create additional financing programs that encourage Millennials and others to purchase first-time homes, so that they have the equity needed to purchase boomers’ homes 10 to 20 years from now.

In the Fuller Institute study, author Chapman notes that there’s already a mismatch in many Washington D.C. area neighborhoods, where empty nest seniors own homes with far more space than they need. More than 273,000 homes are owned by individuals 50 years and older that have at least two more bedrooms than the number of people living in the house. “As these owners downsize or move elsewhere … ” Chapman says, “the potential for increased supply is large enough to moderate price gains.”

Arthur C. Nelson, a professor of planning and real estate development at the University of Arizona, says some local markets with large oversupplies of boomer homes for sale could encounter significant price declines. In an email, Nelson, who has written about the coming challenges with boomers’ homes for several years, suggested that in the worst-hit areas, price declines could be as crushing as “a quarter or a third or more” — essentially the next housing crash.

Not everybody agrees. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says such dark forecasts ignore positive developments well underway — strong U.S. population growth, the rising importance of foreign born buyers who will help sop up the oversupply of large houses in metropolitan suburbs, and the “glacial” speed at which the oversupply is likely to manifest itself.

Yun is emphatic: There should be “no measurable price declines” attributable to the boomers.

What’s this all mean for you? At the very least, be aware of the issue. And think about devising a strategy for dealing with whatever scenario sounds most realistic to you, whether you’re an owner or future buyer.