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.



Patty said:

Debbi Where are you located? I am also interested in organizing and it has to start somewhere - posted on Oct. 23, 2014

Bill said:

Linda, I really agree with you, to young to retire and too old to be hired. Companies think because we have worked too long we cost them too much. They fail to see value in experience and ethics. Debbi has a good idea, all of us should organize. We deserve to work too. We don't want to be a taker from society we want to be givers.

Bill said:

I just found out through a friend that after 32 years I an slated to get let go in early December. On top of that the future ex has cost me nearly $20k in legal bills. I have custody of the 2 kids, 14 and 16. I don't know what I am going to do. I must sell the house. If I don't have an income where will we live? Most of my family is dead, and I have few resources. Frankly I am scared to death. I have not looked for a job in 30+ years. Iam 54 and have seen how others have struggled. I still can contribute.

Linda Carter said:

My first real job was at 15, washing dishes at the Watertown, South Dakota Country Club for $1.60 an hour. I was never unemployed after that, at least not for long. I think it is time to acknowledge what is happening to people my age. I am too young to retire and too old to be hired. No one is asking for sympathy, we just want to rejoin the society we thought we helped to build. -posted on Oct. 15, 2014

Michael said:


Linda Waldron said:

My experience is consistent with those of each person who commented. I am 60+ (ouch) and retired from a teaching job in June 2014. I had worked in that position for 11 years, having taught for a period of 18 years. My retirement resulted from extreme job stress, partly because I was teaching teenagers who cared little about learning. Only after three heart attacks within a ten-day period in 2011 did I realize that my job was, indeed, killing me! Still, I worked for two more years in order to reach Social Security age requirements and to beef up my retirement package with my local school system. I don't get enough income to support myself, and at the end of the month, my husband and I often have to make hard decisions about whether to pay the mortgage or purchase food. I never thought I would end up in this position, and I can see that most of you did not either. I feel ashamed, disappointed, discouraged, and hopeless, and I don't know how much longer we can hang on. I'm not sure if we should try to sell the house or stay put, since it's a nice place and a reasonable mortgage. When we have extraordinary expenses, like birthdays or taxes to pay, we don't have extra money to meet these obligations. We have always revived ourselves with a family vacation in the summer, but this year we could not afford to go. I sometimes wish that I had just stayed in my former job since I had tenure and insurance, but then I think that I could not have lasted there too much longer. Things were very bad. I have a BA in English and MS in Administration. Age discrimination is very real, and anyone who does not believe that is simply wrong. -posted on Oct. 11, 2014

Pari Ezhil said:

Yes. I do agree with Mr David. This is a wonderful idea and you do not need more people. Three or seven is a good number for a team. You do not fret and wail that some one is not recognizing you. As long as you have the knowledge, capacity and committment to serve the society then nobody need to be your boss but You. - posted Oct. 10, 2014

Gwyneth said:

Today’s workforce lacks so much in the way of customer service as it was when I started my career in 1976. After working in customer service/repair (telephone industry) for 32 years, I have come to believe there is no such thing as ‘efficiency’ in any workplace. Gone are those who politely listened as they’ve been replaced by ‘fast-talking, conversation controlling, vapid bodies whose only real concern is about getting the customer off the line as quickly as possible. There is no such thing as resolving an issue the first time, on the first call or visit. It takes hours of being on hold, being transferred, being lied to and being treated poorly. It’s all about metrics and money these days and not about taking care of the customer. While we are all led to believe the customer is ‘number 1’ it’s obvious it’s the shareholder who reigns as being more important. Having said all that, I find myself looking for employment as I was fired from my last job after working for a year. This job was my first steady work since retiring in 2008 and I found the difference in workplace and customer attitude to be of a whole different ‘beast’ as it was in 2008. I was shocked by not only how employees were treated (a non-union workplace) but the outrageousness of many of the callers. I was told customer service wasn’t the ‘guiding light’ but rather ‘numbers/metrics/call volumes’ and, well, I couldn’t do it. I did file, fought and won my unemployment case so at least I have that to fall back on. However, the only skill(s) I possess are outdated! I don’t talk fast, I don’t lie, I don’t rush folks off the phone in order to get to the next caller and I’m prone to taking care of a customer’s problem the first time they call as opposed to dumping it on the next person. I suppose those are qualities no longer needed in the workplace as they don’t generate money (only a happy, satisfied customer). Online job hunting my save on gas but it sure is frustrating in that there are so many phony jobs listed, jobs that are fronts for scams or job links that take you to web sites for furthering your education. I stick with big-name companies as well as local, state and federal job hunting. So far, nothing. It takes on average about 6 months to hear back (via email) from most prospective employers with government jobs taking the longest to respond after testing has been completed. Suffice it to say, it’s all very inefficient. -posted Oct. 10, 2014

Yardo said:

I'm 52 years old and have been unemployed for over 10 years due to redundancy and illness. My last salaried position was one in which I felt very valued and no two days were ever the same. Since I have recovered from my illness, I have tried (believe me, I have tried) to gain employment. I have had more interviews than you could shake a stick at. The result? - nothing. I research each vacancy and have copious amounts of notes in preparation; I present myself well and am attentive and courteous; I am more than able to do whatever job I apply for. The result? - nothing. I have an extremely good educational background, I hold a degree and lots of other certificates which I believe will be an asset to an employer but this seems futile. Why won't any employer realise my worth or simply take a chance on someone who will be committed to an organisation? The whole "getting a job" process is wearing me down ..... Posted Oct. 9.2014

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