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.



Debbi said:

After reading these comments I am so filled with emotion I am having a difficult time putting my thoughts down in writing....I don't even know where to begin. I too am a 55 year old woman who was laid off a year and a half ago and have been unable to find full time employment with benefits. I've been working since I was 14 years old and have NEVER had difficulty landing a job before. I've had some great interviews, or what I thought to be great, and then nothing...not even an email or a phone call???? I am just at a loss...I have 30 years experience, an Associates Degree that I obtained when I was 50 with a GPA of 3.90 and I still can't seem to convince an employer I'm worthy of the job. I too have gone through the emotional roller coaster ride, being up one day because I have an interview scheduled and then hitting bottom and not even wanting to get out of bed the next because I haven't heard back from them. I'm ashamed to say I have also asked myself if it wouldn't be better for everyone if I just wasn't around anymore. My sons have been keeping me afloat since my unemployment and compensation package ran out which makes me feel blessed, but at the same time I feel like a burden to my children. Some days I just wish I could disappear. I'm tired of being rejected and not being able to sustain myself financially. It's embarrassing and degrading. It affects your self esteem and self worth. A job just isn't a job it represents who you are, your place in society, it shows you are a valuable asset able to contribute. I know some comments half jokingly above mentioned creating an organization of folks over 50 who are still able to work and contribute, why not? Why can't we??? Why don't we organize just that?! We could have a web site focused on workers over 50 with a database of folks and their skill sets that employers and recruiters could access. Some how we need to get our point across, people over 50 are still valuable and in most cases able to run circles around these younger employees with their lack of experience. It's better than curling up and giving up....Tell me what you think, please......Can we do it?

Steve Martinez said:

Letter to House Republicans - 9/29/2014 I feel ashamed, embarrassed, and somewhat depressed to find myself sharing publicly what is going on in my life. I was one week away from starting a Full-time job with the City of Houston, when I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in October 2008. Thanks to the Houston VA Hospital for saving my life. Since that month, I have been unemployed. While still in recovery and approaching 56 years old in Dec 2008, I was unable to secure interviews for any employment. I am now almost 62 years old and am pretty much resigned to the fact that I will never be employed again. My wife & I are doing everything we know how to do to create any income. We have been renting this same house since 1999, and have probably paid more in rent than the house is worth. My 32 year old son has refused to leave home in order that he may continue to support us through these tough times. That's not fair to him. I have maintained and increased my computer skills which include SAP, MS Office, Mac systems, web site development, accounting. I am actively involved in social media. I am daily seeking real opportunities for income, but am convinced that self-employment is my only solution. I have recently been through eviction proceedings, and am gathering funds to prevent such action. I am also wondering how I am going to pay a 330.00 electricity bill for one month. And forget about health care for my wonderful wife of 33 years. It is simply unaffordable. Recently, a trip to the grocery store had this old man in tears when looking at the Meat prices. I never thought that I'd have to make such penny pinching decisions. As a Vietnam Era Veteran, I am increasingly disappointed with the direction the current administration has taken. Their unenthusiastic support of Veterans, Seniors, and Americans in general leaves much to be desired. Thank you for anything you can do to help all Americans regain hope for their future and the future of their country. -posted on Sept. 29, 2014

KIm said:

I agree why should I be discriminated against because of the year that I was born. I can still work hard and have skills from a lifetime of experience. I certainly am not ready for the rocking chair yet.

KIm said:

I understand the frustration. I went through school to get an associate degree and graduated with honors last year at 53 still can't find a full time job in my field in the area where I live. I've worked hard all my live and I can still work hard if given the chance to do it. There is discrimination because of age not health or ability. I just want to work too. Any suggestions that could help.-posted Sept. 28, 2014.

Gean Plummer said:

I am a 58 year old woman with a masters degree in Social Work. A few month ago I resigned my job from a not-for-profit agency due to stress which made me very ill. After taking a couple of months off to recover from the stress, I decided to look for a job, it has been almost 6months and I have not been able to find anything.I have not done the state exam which would qualify me to work as a Social Worker, because it costs over $500.00 to take the exam. I worked for many years with the developmentally disabled adults in several different capacities. I would like to do something else, but even with my education and experience in management, no one seems to want to give me a chance. - posted Sept. 27, 2014

David Patch said:

To sum up, I agree with Dorothy :-)

David Patch said:

Wow, I sympathise with Jack - savings gone at 55, and the wife wants out - no surprise I guess. I'm glad I got divorced when I was younger, when the shit hits the fan I won't have some bitch pushing me out. Here's a plan for all those struggling : Why not form an organisation, pool resources and work / live together. A disciplined group can achieve far more than someone going it alone, then when you are on the road to success / fulfillment - you can tell the dysfunctional main stream world to eat shit:-). The reality probably wouldn't work but dreams are free and you don't know until you try. I've tried a few things.

dorthy said:

Can we create a workforce of very valuable and resourcefull workers over 50?? Why aren't we developing companies or organizations that appreciate what we have in workers in this age group? I think it is ridiculous that we have such a valuable resource of knowledge and skills, not to mention the fact that we also know how to be professional in the workforce, but yet we are overlooked because of the year we were born! I am a very forward thinking 59 year old, and feel that I am completing capable of doing the same work as well, if not better, that my 29 year old counterpart. Of course, if I am criticized for being older, that can be discouraging, but it doesn't change the fact that I can still do the work as good as anyone else. If the jobs don't come to us, maybe we should go to the jobs by encouraging the development of positions for people who have only what age can give them: EXPERICENCE, SKILLS, and KNOWLEDGE. - posted Sept.23, 2014

Serena Ward said:

Hi, everyone. I think you are such lovely people. I really think think your comments are very justified. i wish i knew a way to help. I do understand, and we all deserve better , than this.

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