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.

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Sue said:

Dear Maryann, Where do you live? What state? Is there anything we can do to help? Please take a look at our Over 50 and Out of Work Facebook page. There are many good suggestions there where to turn. The Over 50 and Out of Work Team

Maryann said:

I am starving 66 and have no job. I need some kind of a job asap. I am also terrified. - posted April 22, 2014

Sue said:

Dear Nancy, What state do you live in? Is there anything we can do to help? The Over 50 and Out of Work Team

nancy said:

I'm ready to give up and die. 1 month left of money and I'm broke! -posted April 18, 2015

Sue said:

Thank you for this informative comment, TT.

TT said:

This spring, the global bank Barclays will expand its apprenticeship program and begin looking at candidates past age 50. The bank will consider mature workers from unrelated fields, saying the only experience they need is practical experience. The bank says this is no PR stunt; it values older workers who have life experience and can better relate to customers seeking a mortgage or auto loan. With training, the bank believes they would make good, full-time, fairly compensated loan officers. Already, Barclays has a team of tech-savvy older workers in place to help mature customers with online banking. The new apprenticeship program builds on this effort to capitalize on the life skills of experienced employees. Others have tiptoed into this space. Goldman Sachs started a “returnship” in the throes of the recession. But the program is only a 10-week retraining exercise, with competitive pay, and highly selective. About 2% of applicants get accepted. It is not designed as a gateway to full-time employment at Goldman, though some older interns end up with job offers at the bank. The nonprofit Encore.org offers mature workers a one-year fellowship, typically in a professional capacity at another nonprofit, to help mature workers re-enter the job market. Again, this is a temporary arrangement and pays just $25,000. But a growing number of organizations—the National Institutes of Health, Stanley Consultants, and Michelin North America, among many others—embrace a seasoned workforce and have programs designed to attract and keep workers past 50. Companies with internship programs for older workers include PwC, Regeneron, Harvard Business School, MetLife and McKinsey. Find a longer list at irelaunch.com. And get back in the game. - posted April 6, 2015

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

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