The Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, was hard on older workers. In the years following the financial crisis, people from all walks of life struggled to find work – and those lucky enough to have savings found them greatly depleted. The good news is that, on paper, the economy is on the mend.

However, the recent gains that we have seen in the U.S. economy are little comfort to the millions of baby boomers who are still out of work.

Older Workers Are Still Struggling

According to a recent survey by AARP, 50% of workers aged 45 – 70 who lost their jobs in the last 5 years are still out of work. In addition, 48% of the people who were able to find work make less than they did before.

These results are especially alarming when you consider that most baby boomers have not saved enough for retirement. In fact, according to a separate study, by Charles Schwab, 60% of baby boomers have less than $100,000 in savings and 36% have less than $10,000. Many baby boomers say that they are planning on working longer, in part, to make up for their low savings. However, if the data from AARP is to be believed, this may be wishful thinking.

How Can Boomers Get their Groove Back?

Most baby boomers are hard workers. It’s in our DNA. At the same time, many of us have become used to working for other people our whole lives. After months, or even years, looking for another job, it’s natural to want to throw your hands up and accept a lower quality of life – either by retiring early or taking a lower paying job.

One alternative is to use the time that you have to start your own business. If you already have professional skills, this might involve working as a freelance consultant. If you love to write, you could start a content business, like Sixty and Me. The online limitation is your imagination.

What Skills Do You Need to Get Back in the Game?

If you don’t feel that you have the skills that you need to land a new job or start out on your own, there’s never been a better time to ramp up. Most states have job training programs. In addition, there are plenty of low-cost options online to get technical training.

One of my personal favorites is Lynda.com, which offers design, programming, photography, business, video editing and many other courses for as low as $21 a month. Lynda is an great place for older adults to get the skills they need to stay competitive.

If you are thinking about starting a business after 60, you’re in good company. Americans aged 55-64 are now starting businesses at a higher rate than people in their 20s and 30s. The truth is that older entrepreneurs are the “new normal” – the world just doesn’t know it yet.

Have you experienced unemployment as a result of the Great Recession? Do you agree or disagree that starting a business is a viable option for many people that are currently out of work? Why? Please join the conversation.

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