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.



Maria said:

Wow... this situation really shakes whatever self confidence you may have left! I was feeling alone but was glad to read my contemps postings. I worked for AT&T for many* yrs. then they downsized so I took time to pursue creative interest a few years. NEVER dreaming getting another job would be like a crazy fantasy!!! I am actually on food stamps now , one month from handing over my condo keys bcuz I can't make the bills. I live a very frugal life. It is very discouraging job hunting even with a positive attitude. Frankly I'm scared. Good luck to all of you out there in my shoes. BTW I may be 53 but I am totally young at heart. Keep the faith!

Mark said:

Medicare reimbursement is so low for procedures done by respiratory therapists (RRT) in the clinical setting that many hospitals have closed their RRT departments. Good Luck I am a fellow RRT and have been looking for 4 years. I am so broke I do not have funds to pay for my license fees. Thank God I am a veteran because they provide me with a place to live.

Paul said:

I too am 59. I have a MS in Accounting, over 30 years of experience in several industries and a CMA. I am an excellent presenter, educator, manager and strong team player/worker. I have been searching for meaningful work since April 2008, yet have found nothing except low-paying jobs. I currently teach one night per week, run my own sales business (I am NOT a salesman) and move cars for a local rental car company. I have had some interviews that appear promising only for me to learn that I am "number two" to the person who got the job. I keep praying that something will come through, but I am getting more depressed each day. My wife and I have to scrape every month to get rent, car payments, and even food. Imagine, we have to have a discussion over whether or not we can spend $4.00 on a couple of ice cream cones as a treat! We don't take vacations. We can't afford to go out. All we do is work and hope and pray. I could understand if my resume was crap or if I had not been a high achiever in the past. I don't know where to turn and right now, ending it all looks pretty damn good! I know that I have so very much to offer an employer, if I could just get a chance to show them. The sad part is, we don't make enough money to pay the rent or eat, yet in our state, we make too much money for any type of state assistance. I am hoping that this posting will give me some type of cathartic benefit, if not some reasonable advice. I see, all to unfortunately, that I am not alone. Can we band together to help make things change for us? If so, how could this happen? I am almost at the end of my rope ...

Tim said:

Hey everyone, good morning from Phoenix , AZ! I'm 53, my wife and I reloctaed from Texas in January of this year. She was able to land a position at Amazon.com, in the shipping department, she started out as a temp. and was hired. Me, I have been offered positions at about 1/2 my past salaries, no benefits, and I must use my phone, laptop and vehicle with a bonus, I can deduct my gas expense on next years tax return....YAHOO!!! thanks so much!!!! I think it's a issue of supply and demand, to many highly skilled people like ourselves and not enough postions to go around. I'm relistic, I look at myself and think, "why would I hire me?" If I had a choice of a younger kid or me , I would choose the kid. You can mold that kid into the person you would like - the employee you need, but me...I might want to mold the position offered to fit my needs and skills, my comfort zone.. Therefore I might be tough to manage, also I might only work for them maybe10 years and the kid, they might get 30 years out of him/her. Then if we look at salary, the kid will start out at a lower pay. I would be insulated at the same salary and I might keep on looking for a better postion, so that makes that potential employer reluctant to choose me. I GET IT!! So....I went out and bought a hot dog cart and started working it locally... I'm not saying "go into business for yourselves", but I do encourage you all to look at our situation and just come to peace with it and maybe say to yourself " it is what it is" and move on. A door closes and a window opens, stop beating on the door and start looking for that open window! Think out side the box! ( like you never heard that one before).... Good luck!

Dave Henning, Waco Texas said:

So many of you have it right! Jean mentioned something that my Dad told me back in the late '70's... he was in his fifties then. He'd mentioned how hard it was for him to find a job (he was retired, but his employer didn't offer any retirement). He called it a "soft bigotry" against older people. I don't know how often y'all come to this site, but "Vivian" said something troubling. Vivian, if you're out there, I'll pray for you. I myself have been out of work for over a year and a half. I'm a computer and network tech, but my skills are dated. I DID enroll in a VA-sponsored retraining program. It's called VRAP, and you have to be between the ages of 35-60 and unemployed. You also have to be a Veteran. My schooling starts late August. I agree with many of you: reading these stories IS heartbreaking! My unemployment ran out, I rarely get computer-repair jobs and ended up with a friend who took pity on me. I give her money when I can. I had to swallow my pride and get food stamps to help make ends meet here. The other boarder in the house has a checkered past, but is a nice guy. I pray that something comes up. Nobody has to ask how old you are, just look at your resume and then IF you get called in they take a look at you... you can see it on their faces- an HR person HALF your age. I don't give up easily, though. I have school coming up, and I don't care if I'm just a greeter at WalMart, I WILL see this through. Don't be disheartened, my friends. We're all in this boat together. As the saying goes, "misery loves company"! I'll be checking in from time to time. You can also reach me at drh0857@yahoo.com Keep the faith!

jean said:

I do think older people are being treated un fairly in job market these days! I do not understand the mentality of the company owners? Young people jump from job to job now a days! We just want something steady!

Patricia said:

I am responding to Lillian's post, what we need to do is write and write and write some more, we as an older generation of out of work folks, through no fault of our own we need to stand up and continue to fight, fight for what is right and wrong. Just today, I wrote to a state senator in Florida where I live presently to express exactly how I feel about being deemed one of those "long term unemployed" through no fault of my own. If we as a group of older folks stand together on this, someone will listen but all of it needs to be done in numbers, not only frustrations, words on paper to local senators, the White House, news media, etc, as this number of us out there is growing and growing unfortunately and it appears that "we" all have something to say about it

Laurie said:

Seems like we tried to do all the 'right' things and are getting punished for it. We were diligent home owners. Bought a tiny house under what we could afford. Paid all of our bills on time. Saved and invested a bit of what we could. Owned our own used cars. never took vacations and never went out for dinners. Shopped at used clothing stores etc etc. My husband was 57 when he got laid of in 2009. We have six kids. I have a BS degree. I have been a stay at home mom, and have taught all the kids at home. Our local schools are not that great and loaded with drug problems. I have a dyslexic daughter who would really struggle in school, so I don't feel that I could put her in. I feel so badly for the kids. I used to feel like I could tell them, just work hard and that will get you somewhere, but now I don't feel that I am being truthful in saying that. Out of the eight of us, six of us are working. All part time stuff. This leads to total chaos. Our cars are going and going...alot of gas money. I began a housecleaning business and I work nights at a gymnastics school, and I am 55....not a pretty sight! This leads to me being out of the house a lot, and the kids suffer for it. I work it seems around the clock, and we still have nothing to show for it. We have almost lost the house twice. How can you save money on food when you have no time to plan, shop, and prepare it? We have lost nearly all of our savings. We have no health insurance. I don't feel well, and have lost a ton of weight. I look sick. I have lost many teeth, and who will hire someone without teeth? My husband (at 61) is presently working at a construction type company. He is carrying ladders all day or siding up 24 feet. He is exhausted. On Saturdays he goes to a friends land, and cuts and splits wood then brings it home so we can heat the house in the summer. Needless to say the tiny house we live in (1300 sq ft) is falling apart. One daughter works three jobs, and is attempting to pay off a bit of school debt. All of my kids have lost hope of ever moving out of here. It is devastating. Not to mention we had a car stolen. Our house tax just went up. Nh wants to add more gas tax. All govt sector jobs get everything they want. They have the best of health care, pensions etc etc.When will these people stop? My parents, who have been super diligent their whole lives, pay around $10,000 or more house tax where they live. It is not a mansion. a nice colonial, but not in any way ostentatious. This is ridiculous. Our government is growing by leaps and bounds and we the people are getting soaked.

D said:

I just found this site and have been reading about stories that are so the same as I am going through. I am in my 50's and have been looking for a permanent job since 2010. I have worked a part time job for 6 mos in 2011 and 2012 and have been laid off since Jan 2013. I trust in God and if I did not believe That God will never leave us or forsake us I would probably have given up by now. Your stories are just heart breaking and I don't understand why I cannot get a job. I too have about $120 in my bank account. I never understood how all the money the Celeberties are making and I just want a job making $40K or more a year. I have hit rock bottom for all that I am and have and I have never taken drugs nor would I ever want to. I am not one to ask anyone for money especially from my family. Again it is by the grace of our God that I have not gone insane. I pray for each and every one of you and for myself That we will overcome our sadness so we can live the rest of our lives in happiness.

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