Older Workers: No Longer Needed?

Over 50 and Out of Work documents the devastating impact of the Great Recession on 100 older Americans, and a May 2011 report issued by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University sets their individual experiences in a broader and more ominous national context.

The report, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, catalogs the shocking impact of the “Great Dislocation of 2007-09” on older workers and the economic consequences for the country. The full report “The Job Dislocation and Re-employment Experiences of America’s Older Workers During the Great Recessionary Period of 2007-2009” can be read by clicking here.

“I feel like we’ve become a throwaway generation,” said one unemployed older worker we met during the course of our interviews, and the center’s report offers support for her apprehension.

Twelve of the report’s key points about the three-year Great Recession:

• 2.685 million older workers (55 and older) were permanently dislocated from their jobs.

• The dislocation rate for older workers was 9.3 percent, the highest rate ever recorded for this age group.

• One out of every seven older worker in the private for-profit sector lost his or her job.

• One out of every nine older men with up to the Associate’s degree level was dislocated.

• Close to one out of every five older workers holding a blue-collar job were permanently laid off.

• In January 2010, nearly 75 percent of all older workers were working or actively looking for work. Almost 50 percent of them were unemployed.

• In January 2010, only 37 percent of older, dislocated workers had found new jobs. This rate is the lowest re-employment rate for older workers ever recorded.

• The unemployment rate for older workers (which is broken down by age groups in the report) is twice as high as those experienced by older workers during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

• In January 2010, 65 percent of older workers were unemployed, underemployed or mal-employed (not able to fully utilize their skills and education in their new jobs).

• In January 2010, all re-employed dislocated older workers earned, on average, $105 or 13 percent less per week than they had been paid previously.

• The overall aggregate loss in earnings among older dislocated workers was $73.5 billion or $27,364 per dislocated worker.

• The estimated annual fiscal loss to the United States (from cash and in-kind transfers paid to dislocated workers plus the lost annual federal and state tax receipts) is $38.07 billion or $20,376 per dislocated worker.



KK said:

I was laid off from my job in October 2014. I still can't figure it out. It was a small company and I had experience in almost every department. As a salaried worker I worked probably 20 extra hours a week. The fact that they chose me when I gave my all to that job has almost killed me. I have never been fired or laid off in my life. I have held a job since I was 16. I am now 53 and feel like society has cast me aside. I have kept my skills up to date, went back to school a few years ago and earned a degree, but no one will hire me. The only jobs I have been offered pay $9-$10 per hour. I am a single mom. I can't survive on the salary that a teenager just graduating from high school would be paid. I have managed to pick up some work from home doing consulting, but nothing long term. Because there are few jobs where I live, I have started to look for jobs that can be done from home. Tons of the tech start ups hire remote workers. These companies like to post photos of their employees. Take a look sometimes. While their ethnicity is mixed, the ages are not. Typically their oldest employee looks 30. My whole life I have worked with people of all ages, but these start ups act like anyone over 30 would screw up their new age way of working and turn them into a no fun zone. It is demoralizing. Although I know it is not the end of the world, I totally understand now why some people go crazy when they lose a job. I go to the unemployment office and watch people who seem totally incompetent try to help me find a job. They always end up saying things like: Well, it looks like you are doing everything you can." I had one lady take notes while I was telling her the various ways I look for jobs. Yet she has a job and I can't find one. I know I have valuable skills. If I had any money I would start a business because I know I have the brains to succeed, but I have gone through every bit of money I have, my credit is now ruined and I will soon have to go to family to ask for money. Experience used to mean something. Now it just means you are old. - posted March 23, 2015

John said:

It's pretty spooky on my end for sure...Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the struggle trying to make it.I lost my house in 2008 and worked for a company afterwards living out of my car.I left the area I was working at due to the fact the cost of rent and expenses were more then I could afford. So I moved to cheaper area only to find nothing available also.I worked all of my life only to be heavily taxed by a goverment that takes the money and sends it overseas and ect. I'm counting down the days I can go on. -posted March 19, 2015

L said:

There is help out there. I am 58 and have been unemployed for 3 years with an occasional short term temp assignment. First get yourself on your towns low income housing list IMMEDIATELY! Second go to your county and apply for food stamps and general assistance and Medicaid. My experience is that as long as you don't have any major assets you will receive both food stamps and general assistance. It isn't much but it will help you survive. Also get on the internet and look for the federal and state assistance programs for paying your utility bills. It takes time and you will have to gather information but you have nothing to lose by applying. Go to senior citizen sites and look for assistance programs as well. There are programs even for people who own their homes. I don't own a home or have assets. I do own my own car. ARRP has a link to some programs as well. I spent many, many hours searching the internet to find the programs that I did so check in your area. Your local power and light may have a program as well to assist with bills for struggling families. There is a program online for families with children to receive free internet. I too get very depressed and want to cash it in at times because I was also diagnosed with cancer last March and my friends couldn't deal so I am on my own. I have no family to emotionally or financially assist me. I hope this gives some of you a direction to go in and some hope. - posted March 8, 2015

Michael B said:

I am right there too Linda. I was happily married when my mom got sick with leukemia and then Alzheimer's. I took care of her in my home for a long number of years. My wife worked a great job and took care of us. Then she lost her job. She went fanatically religious and abandoned us. I had to divorce my dear wife and was final June 2013. My mom died 2 days later. I tried and tried and tried to find a job.....any job. But no one wants to hire anyone over 50. I found out from an attorney that I do not qualify for any assistance, because I haven't worked 5 of the last 10 years. I think I'm living in a nightmare! How can all this happen? How am I suppose to survive? My resources are exhausted. Please help! Anyone? Please.. -posted March 7, 2015

Maria said:

Just checking in on this site again. Feeling alone and misunderstood sometimes. My 55th bday on the horizon and still wondering where the hell I fit in. Working at Target currently but cannot support myself without asking for family's help. Credit once excellent is now history as I had to practically live on my Discover card to get buy. 401K gone like so many others. You keep thinking stay positive, and who knows what tomorrow brings ?RIGHT??? Do what you can but you can't do much more than that... George Harrison. I live every month terrified I can make it to the next... How did this happen? - posted Feb. 26, 2015

Shari said:

This is true. I have had to re-enter the work force at a bottom level after divorce/raising two children with an ex spouse working 24/7. Not easy and I am lucky to have a 3 day a week job after three years temping/evening night classes in MS Office Suite. Also, people do not treat over 40 women correctly. They think they are crazy, cannot multitask and not smart. Respect is gone. I am still trying for a permanent full time job, but have had one call for an interview recently. He cancelled the night before. This is worst than dating after 50 for women! I don't know what to tell my daughter - except stay at work as long as possible. It is depressing and I will not give up. They are wrong about us and will need to figure it out like older men do when only dating 20 somethings. -posted Feb 20, 2015

MisterM said:

52 and have been aggressively looking for work in my field for almost a year. I am in high tech - software consulting sales - and have worked for some major companies in the past. I am getting interviews, both over the phone and in person. Several companies have flown me out to the coast, dropping a lot of money for a ticket, to have me interview in person. I am polished, professional, and accomplished - and have salt and pepper hair. I present myself well and do so with confidence. However, after my in person interviews, I find out a few days later that I am not going to move forward in the interview process. These are lengthy interview processes - some having as many as 8, 9, and 10 rounds of interviewing with presentations to boot! The latest reason I was told I would not move forward as a candidate is because I "do not have as much domain expertise as they would like." Huh? I have excellent experience in the position they were hiring for having managed a 6 state region, selling 7-figure deals. My family needs me to bring home the bacon. Please say a prayer for me...as I will for you all. -posted Feb. 12, 2015

Teri said:

I got laid off from my job last year and the organization was non profit and didn't pay into unemployment so I got none. I like many of you get the interviews and positive comments but not the job.In the past when I had such positive interviews I get the job well almost every job I fill out for I get a interview but not the job.What is the deal? I am clean attractive outgoing personality experience but no job.It has to be our Age what else could it be? I will soon be 50 and yep its looking pretty hopeless.I have always paid my bills on time,excellent credit and have lived within my means, now we are barely eating. It's not fair and everything is going up in price but I can't get a job. Someone said we would cost them more(employers). That would be true if you lost your job but not getting a job. You make what they are willing to pay. What I think is cruel is to give us a interview in the first place if they have no intentions in hiring someone our age. This has really become a problem. - posted on Feb. 11, 2015

John Winstel said:

When I click on read the rest I get the same page that first appeared. I want to hear the 'rest of the story', as Paul Harvey would of said it. Stories are sad but, comforting in an odd sense. I'm 55 and and am looking for work and have had the same results as others posted on this site. My wife makes me feel as though I am the only one out of work. Need to start a national campaign. Gov't could help in giving 'money' to companies who hire over 50 and keep their jobs for 2 yrs minimum to help out SS contributions amongst other benefits. Easier to get into heaven than finding a job these days! - posted Feb. 10, 2105

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