Encore Careers Go to Washington, D.C.

Marc Freedman

Encore careers got their first big hearing on Capitol Hill on July 15 when Civic Ventures CEO Marc Freedman testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

See the hearing on CSPAN

Read U.S. News & World Report's summary of the testimony: "Six Reasons to Delay Retirement"

The underlying message of the hearing, called “Choosing to Work During Retirement and the Impact on Social Security,” was clear: It’s time to provide incentives to help millions more people find encore careers that provide continued income, personal meaning and social impact.

Speaking before the committee, Freedman said society needs to move beyond the zero-sum debates of raising taxes or cutting Social Security benefits and toward a future that is sustainable for individuals and society.

“I think we’re at a point now where we have to come up with a new deal around longer working lives that’s as appealing as the old deal around shorter ones,” he said, “a deal that people could actually look forward to and could be part of a new American Dream.”

Freedman heralded a new stage of work driven by longer life spans and by people who want, or need, to work longer. Policies that enable more individuals to have encore careers, he said, “can have a dramatic impact on individual lifetime financial security and the financial security of the nation. Continued participation in the labor force contributes to economic growth and productivity, enhances government revenues and reduces deficits, independent of any changes in tax rates or benefit levels.”

To help make encore careers a new social norm, Freedman urged the senators to:

  • Create incentives for people to work longer in jobs that serve their communities, while still protecting Social Security’s safety net
  • Support community colleges that retrain people wanting to switch to social-purpose careers
  • Offer more favorable treatment of college loans for adult learners
  • Realize the promise of national service and encore fellowships by funding provisions in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that provide pathways for encore careers
  • Support “individual purpose accounts” that allow people to save for their own encore career transitions

“It’s time to engage our shared interests in fiscal solvency and retirement security and make common cause with aging boomers who are passionate about working to create a better world for future generations,” Freedman said.

Others who testified were Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration; Marcia Brown, chief operating officer of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (an Encore Opportunity Award winner); Nicole Maestas, economist and group manager of the RAND Corp.; and Bonnie Shelor, senior vice president for human resources of Bon Secours Richmond Health Systems.

See a video of the hearing and read the official testimony.