Sept 2014 – Chris Farrell, Unretirement

September SHIFT Forum:  Economics correspondent Chris Farrell speaks about UNretirement


As a byproduct of the Great Recession, midlifers and millennials have been forced into inter-generational warfare…or so it seems, says economics correspondent Chris Farrell. Twenty-somethings wait impatiently for sixty-somethings to retire and create more room in the workforce. Sensing the push from behind, sixty-somethings resist, still feeling they have plenty to contribute. Despite the tension, the two generations have much in common, Farrell told more than 100 members of the SHIFT Community in a SHIFT Forum presentation Monday, Sept. 8, a talk centered on his new book, Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life. Even though they’re decades apart in age, Farrell says midlifers and millennials share an idealistic outlook; they both seek work that has meaning.

“More significant,” adds Farrell, “twenty-two-year-olds now entering the workforce will benefit from their elders’ experimentation.” Because they’re not ready to quit, boomers and midlifers are looking for new ways to work longer. “We’re at a turning point,” Farrell told the SHIFT audience. “We’re seeing a lot of creativity about creating jobs.”

At the same time, he cautions, change will not happen overnight. Washington, DC is not talking about the aging workforce, he says, and employers aren’t yet paying much attention either. Still, because he’s an admitted optimist, Farrell points to companies like Intel, which offers Encore Career Fellowships to retirees who want to enter a new stage of work with nonprofit organizations. Farrell believes changing attitudes toward older workers will be a 20- to 30-year process, and it’ll require a sustained grassroots effort. But the good news, he says, is that’s what the system responds to.

ChrisFarrell2About Chris Farrell
Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor at Marketplace, American Public Media’s nationally syndicated public radio business and personal finance program. He is also economics commentator for Minnesota Public Radio. An award-winning journalist, Chris is a columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek, the Star Tribune, Next Avenue and Learn more about his new book, Unretirement.


Submitted by Susan Krautbauer