Let’s Keep Them Employed
Here’s a statistic that blows my mind: Older adults – those 60-plus – are helping fuel our local economy to the tune of more than $5.37 billion annually in Central Indiana. It’s a stat that came out of our 2021 Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults (CASOA).
In Marion County, older adults contribute about $2.4 billion. It’s nearly $1 billion in Hamilton County and a half-billion dollars in Johnson County. This includes both the work they are paid to do ($3.66 billion in Central Indiana) and the value of the work they are doing through volunteerism ($1.7 billion).
Some call them baby boomers, but I call them the treasured generation. They not only have a lot to give, but they are eager to contribute to their communities in a variety of capacities. We can’t ignore this kind of economic impact. That’s why it’s important that we make opportunities available to keep older adults active, earning and learning.
While $5.37 billion is an impressive number, we learned another eye-opening statistic. Older adults are struggling to find meaningful work. Nearly half of the older adults surveyed in Central Indiana said they had trouble building skills for both paid and unpaid work, and 35 percent said they had trouble finding work after retiring. Imagine the economic impact that would come from helping older adults find jobs they love and volunteer opportunities they are passionate about.
Working after retirement
Yes, retired folks want to work. In fact, during the pandemic, millions of older Americans retired before age 65, but to most economists’ surprise, they’ve boomeranged back into the workforce faster than other age groups. An estimated 1.5 million of those would-be retirees are back to work according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in May.
Older adults continue to work or go back to work after retirement for a variety of reasons. Some want to stay active and involved. Others re-enter the workforce because of cost-of-living increases. Regardless of the reason, we need to do our part to help older adults land jobs and volunteer positions.
This is especially important to CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, because we work every day to help older adults live as independently as possible for as long as possible. We want older adults to enjoy financial stability, so they can maintain their homes, safely age in place, and continue taking care of themselves. Financial stability means older adults – our treasured generation – won’t be faced with deciding on whether they can afford food or medication. The sad truth is this is happening too often right here in Indianapolis.
Welcoming older adults for job and volunteer opportunities
CICOA has always worked to make life better for older adults, but we are strategizing new ways to do more. We’re asking ourselves how we can make sure seniors know they are welcome to volunteer. We’re also working to diversify our workforce. This is one of the reasons we are honored to partner with Martin University’s Martin Works program.
Martin University not only is Indiana’s only predominately Black college, but a large percentage of its students are older students, those looking to change careers or obtain the skills they need to better their lives.
CICOA recently attended “draft day” as part of the Martin Works apprentice program. Drafted students will work 20 hours a week, and when they graduate, they will become full-time employees of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions.
It’s a win-win for us all. It’s one way we’re trying to do our part to welcome older adults into the workforce. What else can we do? Drop me a note about ways we may be able to work together to help fuel our economy by keeping our treasured generation involved.
As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.