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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Older Poor Americans And Their Search For Work

"Workampers" travel across the country in RVs, often performing seasonal work or even working part-time in huge Amazon warehouses. (Curtis Perry/Flickr)

“Workampers” travel across the country in RVs, often performing seasonal work or even working part-time in huge Amazon warehouses. (Curtis Perry/Flickr)

More than 7 million Americans age 65 years and older were still working last year. That’s up 60 percent from a decade ago.

A story in Harper’s Magazine opens a window into some of these people. They’re called “workampers” (a contraction of working and camping) and they travel across the country in their RVs, often performing seasonal work, selling fireworks, pumpkins, Christmas trees. They even work part-time in huge Amazon warehouses.

Many of these people say they love the work, which they need for the income. But there are obvious downsides. They don’t have health care and they don’t have unions to protect them.

Jessica Bruder is author of the story, “The End Of Retirement: When You Can’t Afford To Stop Working,” in the August issue of Harper’s. She told Here & Now’s Robin Young that this movable work force is a great thing for companies like Amazon.

“It’s actually kind of an employer’s dream,” she said. “They show up with the house. They’re ready to go and they disappear when you don’t need them. They pretty much create these ephemeral company towns.”

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