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.



Scout said:

I just feel like jumping off a bridge. I have been unemployed over 16 months. The isolation and no social contact is killing me. No one wants to know you once your unemployed, that I found out the hard way. I went from making 70k a year to being on welfare. I don't have children or family so it is very hard to keep up a support system. I have been on over 30 interviews, did all the following up, thank you notes....etc but to no avail. I never thought this would be my life at 54 yrs of age. I am so unhappy. I just want to go to sleep and not wake up but I have 3 rescue dogs and would not do that but it just feels like the only way out at times. I can't remember the last time someone called to see how I was making out. I hope y'all are having better luck than I am but as soon as they know my age - it's see ya later!

Carolyn said:

I understand and empathize what's written here. Some job articles suggest older workers have to adapt to the mannerisms of the youth based culture, even your boss, if s/he is younger. Adapting isn't the issue. I'm technology savvy with advanced education and work experience. Most office jobs aren't that difficult due to automation. What's happening is a cost cutting strategy where mid-level to upper level positions are eliminated and companies hire new in their career managers. Here's the million dollar question: let's say you're there and working efficiently and effectively and the recently promoted boss suddenly finds fault in your work, begins micromanaging you, and doesn't acknowledge anything you bring to the employer. The loss of self as mentioned here may also come from the social isolation and lack of intellectual stimulation and challenge from a former well paying job. It does help to work with colleagues on your skill level. Companies screen people through psychometric tests. If they discover your strengths and play only to your weaknesses, thus depriving you of the very things that you need to thrive in your work, you could be eventually faded out. Other than the paycheck, the work becomes meaningless. Congress, the Senators, there needs to be more public awareness and solutions to the dilemma of lack of sustainable employment. General living, healthcare, and basic needs expenses for mature adults are not satisfied with the very low wages paid in today's market. Everyone knows some "one" or some "families" who are affected in this way. How can this issue of lack of sustainable jobs be solved? -posted July 23, 2015

Diana Blyler said:

I lost my job after working for the same company for 20 years. I had major back surgery in 2010 and within a year of my return to work I was terminated. I had been a Director for a major Food Company. I had never been written up and every evaluation for 20 years was meets or exceeds expectations. However my surgery cost over 200,000. and within a year I had been written up and then terminated. My health then took a downturn and I am now on disability. - posted July 10, 2015

Patricia said:

In response to Jeanne who posted on July 6, 2015, we are all terrified especially those of us who are single if you will. At least you have some sort of a job, I have none, have looked and looked, written and spoken to, been interviewed numerous times, and I like you had positions yes two wherein I was able to live comfortably. Today, I do not know what comfortably is anymore, like you also, I do not know who I am either, as once was that professional as well. I even went to school after the lay off to put together two backgrounds with the schooling and yet, "who am I"? Hang in there. - posted July 7, 2015

Jeanne said:

I will be 64 in February, 2016. Was downsized out of a decent paying job in 2010. Took four years, and having to sell my house, my car, almost everything I owned, sold my gold jewelry, plus depleting all of my retirement investments to stay afloat before finding a decent paying job in 2013. That lasted only 7 months before the company went through a big transition and my position disappeared. Am working now as a $12 an hour receptionist after having been a $60k per year executive director. I feel like a walking dead person. The person I was is gone; I have no life, just barely existing day to day. I have cut every expense possible, eat only one meal a day, and I have tried to hold on to a shred of hope, but eventually reality overshadows hope. Like many of you, I come to this page for something to be hopeful for. I am the sole provider for my financial needs. I am terrified and feel trapped with no way out. - posted July 6, 2015

Thomas said:

Skip the rhetoric. Help find Cody a job he can endure. I vote that individuals and corporations that have taken a large part of the GDP should be accountable for student loan debt, social welfare, and social health care. It is a robber barron society to think executives take home millions while the workers actually do the sweat and physical labor. - posted July 3, 2015

Marie said:

I wanted to pass along the following: "The FTC is looking into how these hiring algorithms promote bias and discrimination. Ashkan Soltani, the FTC’s chief technologist, says, 'We have little insight as to how these algorithms operate, what incentives are behind them or what data is used and how it’s structured.'" http://corcodilos.com/blog/8064/how-hr-optimizes-rejection-of-millions-of-job-applicants I urge everyone who has had the pleasure of completing a job application via an ATS full of offensive discriminatory questions such as "Date of college graduation" or "Are you currently employed?" to write to this person and share the details of your experience: Ashkan Soltani, Office of Technology Research and Investigation, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580 -- I recommend included lots of screenshots of the ATS if possible (my own letter is ten pages long and full of incriminating screenshots). If this guy's office gets bombarded with letters, it might or might not affect change, but it certainly can't hurt. -posted on June 28, 2015

Patricia said:

I am responding to Susan who posted today, June 23 2015. No you are not missing anything anymore. What has happened to any one of us we are now deemed as I feel anyway, "the forgotten" we were all put out to pasture if you will for various reasons and the like. I commend you for what you are doing in the heat if you will, but ask yourself a question? If you pass out or get sick from the heat, what happens after that? While I understand the need for a salary and the health benefit if you are without, but the stress levels connected to any one of us surpasses anything I have ever experienced. You are on a computer start writing, answering any posts that are related to what happened to any one of us and eventually there will be someone or something that might start listening to any one of us. I am about to be interviewed next week in connection to what happened to me and until then, I do not know anymore. But I write, to the White House, Department of Labor, i.e Thomas Perez, Janet Yellen, your local and State Senators, newspapers, radio stations, trust me, there are those out there would indeed listen and will post as long as you come across as someone who has been through hell and continues to be there. I wish you luck but remember, someone somewhere will listen!!!!!!! -posted June 27, 2015

Susan said:

I will turn 60 this year. I've spent quite some time reading all these comments after reading the article, hoping to find what I was online searching for - something to give me hope. The combination of ageism and lack of quality, paying jobs is REAL. The unemployment rate is only half the story, if that. Most people I know are working for far less than they were making ten years and even 20 or 30 years ago. I'm doing door to door sales in Oklahoma. It's not an easy job for a youngster let alone someone my age in 95-100 degree heat index. I NEVER would have been caught doing this or dreamed I would be doing this. I've tried starting my own company and a few other sales jobs but even when you do background checks and talk to current employees you really don't find out what the job is like and what you can REALLY make until you've been there a while. I'm sure there are others who now, like me, have a once superb resume ruined by several short term positions. I'm finding myself staying at home, declining invitations and becoming very depressed and angry and hopeless. All I'm reading here is others feeling the same way, with few exceptions. That isn't helping! I've reinvented myself so many times I don't know who I am anymore. I still can't believe how my life has changed and know there are thousands of others feeling the same way. The government is now only helping the 1% get richer instead of creating jobs by taking care of our infrastructure, improving the school systems, health system...all of which would create more than enough jobs for all of us, building bridges, supplying materials for the bridges, selling those supplies, housing people getting the new jobs....With no one in Washington who cares, am I missing something? Are there any answers? -posted June 23, 2015

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