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.



Patricia said:

I hate to admit this, but having also had a career in the legal world for well over 20+ years, as well as a second being that of an insurance claims representative and upon my lay off in August/2008, I went to school to be able to put some of my background with the schooling and I graduated in August/2009 and I am still unemployed today, October 28, 2014. Unfornately for any one of us who had careers those careers are gone, what is left is nothing, at least that is what I have found, and trust me, I have exhausted every corner, avenue, block and any other word you can use to try and get onto my feet after my lay off. Age discrimination is a big big factor along with experience, as the employer of today is that wherein they want to pay the "minimum wage" but yet they want all of the experience any one of us has or had. They say we are not current or our skill levels are not there, I ask what is "there" today? because truthfully I have not found anything that would remotely pay a "food bill" for a week. The only advice I can render is that everyone needs to continue the push to be heard, just that to be HEARD because with all of the other problems in the United States today, we the "unemployed, long term unemployed, "99er's" or any other degatory comment one can think of, we are not important anymore and some would truly like for we to "disappear" altogether, remember, STAND UP AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD, BECAUSE SOMEONE WILL LISTEN!!!!!!! -posted on Oct. 30, 2014

Michael Harbick said:

Martin Schwanke I too an an IT professional who was let go from HP July 15 2014 on the start of a new week by 7:30 AM Oh well, at 58 in June no job prospects here in the States but seeking anyone's input for ideas too. -posted on Oct. 30, 2014

Vicky said:

Linda, I totally understand and sympathize with you in your current struggle. I too am in a similar situation. I was a legal secretary with 25 plus years of experience. I lost my job in 2011 at age 59 from a major law firm where I worked for 15 years. I've been job hunting ever since. I had registered with numerous employment agencies, gone on-line applying for numerous positions, done the word-of-mouth thing through numerous contacts...you name it, I've done it. The only jobs I've managed to get were temp positions and part-time jobs not in my area of experience that were very low paying. My unemployment ran out and my 401K and savings exhausted. I've had maybe 10 or so face-to-face interviews that I thought went very well but never got the positions. I always dressed professionaly and conducted myself in a professional manner during the interviews. I had very good references and work history and yet I was never "a good fit". I know a number of people personally who are experiencing the same road blocks. I agree with you 100% on age discrimination. It is very alive and well but unless you can prove it there is nothing you can do. It is heartbreaking that this is happening to us. We have all done the right things in our lives...worked hard and played by the rules and now we've been tossed aside. I will be able to get my social security in mid-January but that will barely cover my mortgage let alone all the other bills and utilities. I don't know how I will manage and I'm so depressed and numb from the worry and stress. I've gone as far as emailing the White House wanting to know what is being done about this...do the powers that be understand what is going on with us? When I finally got a response (nearly 2 months later) I received an email in a standard form letter with my name plugged in saying "we understand the struggles people are going through" etc. etc. Really? Easy to say when you're making a big paycheck and you don't have to worry about paying your bills and there is food on your table, not to mention disposable income you can spend on vacations and all the other bells and whistles. I don't know what the answer is and I'm tired of trying. I, like yourself, never thought in a million years that I would be in this situation. My heart and prayers goes out to you and know that you are not alone in your struggles....it's a very big club we're all in. - posted Oct. 29, 2014

ruth hirsch said:

My husband was a sole practitioner in personal injury for 35 years. In addition he was a local assemblyman, and a teacher. Now at 65 he lost his contacts and pple sense he is basically retired. On top of it all he is embarrassed to admit to this and hides out a lot at home. Life has become unbearable because I and he are leading fake lives. HE IS TOO RMBARRASSED TO BE OUT DURING THE DAY AND IS GETTING INTO A DEEPWR AND DEEPWR DEPRESSION. I am the only one holding the Fort down. I have married children and grandchildren and he even hides out from them. He keeps going into a deeper and deeper shell,doesn't have any outside co n tact with people. I am at my sits end. What should I do

Martin Schwanke said:

Well I couldn't believe it when unemployment hit me (at 52), I have really struggled to find a job, here in the UK. My job seekers allowance runs out in a month. I just want to fit in again, but feel really out of luck, and getting quite down about it all. some days I just stay in bed, don't even get dressed. I've really lost my mojo, so many applications, failed interviews and feel like it's all leading to one conclusion. The only thing I have been considering for now is going for a volunteering organisation, working for free to help others, or even not really being around anymore to be a burden on the state. That's a bit silly and selfish, but it does get to that stage sometimes. I am an I.T. professional (at least was until June 2014). - posted Oct. 27, 2014

mara said:

I want guidance! On what steps to take. there are a lot of women and men want that second chance I know I deserve it. Now where do I Sign up! No time to waste - posted Oct. 27, 2014

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.

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