The Great Recession Continues for Unemployed Boomers

My June column for

Since the declared end of the Great Recession almost two years ago, the outlook for unemployed boomers in the United States has continued to evolve and become more complicated, but it has not brightened.

On the positive side of the picture, the unemployment rate for older workers is 6.3 percent, which compares favorably to the national average of 9.0 percent. More ominously, the length of time that older workers are jobless has been climbing since 2008 and now exceeds 12 months, three months longer than the average time for all unemployed workers.

Moreover, although the number of Americans who are 50-plus and jobless remains around three million, this figure does not take into account: workers who have dropped out of the labor market due to discouragement; individuals forced to claim disability payments or Social Security at the earliest possible date because they cannot find jobs to support themselves; and, lastly, the growing numbers of boomers who are seriously underemployed.

For the past 15 months, Over 50 and Out of Work has been using video to chronicle the stories of older unemployed Americans, and we have now reached our goal of documenting 100 Stories. We have traveled to 16 states, focusing on the states suffering from the highest unemployment rates and interviewed people who have worked in all major industry groups in a diverse array of occupations.

We continue to stay in touch with our interviewees and track the progress of their job searches. Here is a brief summary of their outcomes to date:

Please click here to continue reading.



Susan said:

It is a hard time for us. And, it's not exactly what we expected with our lives. I am a divorced woman, 56 years old with a MBA, was a home owner and worked for Fortune 100 companies. I've sold my home moved around for jobs and now find myself living with a friend until I land my next job. I'm intelligent, above average IQ and not ready to "retire" or should I say not financially ready to retire and probably never will be. Over the past year, I've applied for 100s of jobs, have had interviews, good interviews, but never get the job offer. It's not like it was when I was in my 20's or 30's. I go to bed at night thinking of all I did that day and what I can do tomorrow to find a job to pay my bills. I'm just glad my children are grown and on their own, I'd never be able to support them now. I'm lucky to have a friend who has offered me a room until I can get on my feet. What do people like us do who don't have family or friends to fall back on? I feel your pain. Each morning I wake up, it's a brand new day and I'm happy to be here. I still feel the sunshine on my face, get to see the people I love and their smiles. - posted April 15, 2015

NH said:

Response to Carol Moffit: If your position was eliminated you were let go through no fault of your own, and should have been eligible for unemployment benefits. You should have fought them in any case. Don't believe what they tell you, they are just trying to get out of paying unemployment. This was posted in March, so it may be too late, but go to your unemployment office anyway and file a claim. Tell the reviewer what happened and they will decide if you are eligible or not. Considering your short term disability that caused you to lose your job in the first place, you could also file an ADA discrimination complaint. I would also file for permanent disability from SSD, the process is long and hard, but it may be your best bet long term, since you will be unable to work full capacity again at your age. Insurance: If you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid, it may be true that you are not eligible for the free insurance OR the subsidies. This is a gap that was created affecting those making less than $16,000 per year. Because you are poverty level you are not allowed to purchase on the exchange and qualify for the subsidies. If you can afford to move to another state, or stay with family and friends, in a state with expanded Medicaid, this is your only hope for insurance until retirement age, unless you get a new full-time job, or permanent disability . With SSD you will get Medicare after 2 years. Do a search for "States that expanded medicaid" to see which ones were affected by the ACA opt out ruling! This was an unconscionable thing to happen to the poorest and sickest of our citizens! These decisions were made at state level, so vote accordingly in the next election, if you want state law to change to expand medicaid! My personal situation: I am just now 49, but lost my job in a company bankruptcy almost 4 years ago. 250 applications later, I am only working occasional contract jobs now. I don't even get called to interview in the field I worked in for 18 years. Worked 25 years total, non-stop, and my experience now means nothing. Ageism exists over 40, especially in the tech field I used to work in. Additional training has yielded *nothing*! Now living on $7,000 per year, no family to help, no savings, credit shot, lots of debt. House paid for, but may lose it due to the other debts. Kentucky has Medicaid for me, but no Homestead Exemption in bankruptcy, so, still looking for that perfect state to be poor in! I too am limited by bad health, and can't do the 50lb box lifting jobs that are so plentiful. Good luck to everyone and may you find a solution to your personal situation. - posted April 5, 2015

Shelley said:

To Meg and others, just know that some of us can relate when it feels like no one else understands. I have started to mention ageism to my family, but I think it's difficult to believe unless you've experienced it. I have worked hard for years only to feel that my experience is no longer valued. Still, I am hopeful because things can change for the better. It might take longer than we want, but things can turn around. I hope for this for all of you. - posted March 29, 2015

MEG said:

I feel invisible every day. No one cares anymore. No eye contact or conversation. I am told to give up on finding a job or romance. People make snide remarks about me being 'older' on a daily basis. Ageism is rampant and it gives many people a sense of great satisfaction. I am 52 and in great physical and mental shape. It is impossible to find acceptance anywhere. I feel like a leper. Men completely shun me and married women shut me out. I have become a loner. I have no friends. - posted March 29, 2015

Peter McCafferty said:

I have to say it is the same in the UK. Over 50's are being made redundant with little chance of a new job. I have been lucky and managed to hold on to my home until something came along. Nothing like the job or salary I had but it feeds us and keeps a roof over our head. My wife has been out of work for over 3 years despite excellent work record and qualifications and will never work again in this country. Like so many of you we worked since we were 16 , got qualified and raised a family but now no one cares. We are classed as 'past it' and all anyone cares about is young persons unemployment. Not much help but my heart goes out to you all and we can only pray for better times but they are a long way off I think. -posted March 27, 2015

Cindy Maynard said:

I'm hoping to work with title 5. I'm 57 year old women with upper back pain and have found that I cannot do the work I use to throughout my life. My husband is on ssdi and it is a struggle to pay all bills and eat too. Medicare is coming this July for him which means his job he had to retire from is dropping him from bcbs ppo. that means health coverage went hirer for us and takes more of his ssdi for plan b&d. Needless to say even less food on the table for my diabetic husband. We lost our house back in 2007 and live in apts. From the stories I've read on your site things are not that bad yet for us. As each month passes with only promises of work I can see us sinking. We worked hard our whole lives and never was ones for handouts. I'm tired and while I have faith in God; my hope is that I don't live long on this earth. I don't want to become a bag lady or suck off of society. I only ask for a job that will not cause pain in my back and a chance to keep working for my living. I have college debt and didn't get a degree because I could not see any since in creating more debt. devils triangle in the old USA in trying to hold ones own. Wish my fellow boomers the best and thank you all for sharing...things can get depressing fast. Traveling the road with you, Cindy - posted March 19, 2015

Louise said:

I honestly think the hardest part of not having a job is the lack of understanding the kids have, they seem to think this is a choice. I don't have the worries some of you do (yet), I still have the proverbial "roof over my head" and thank God for that. It's the depression that comes every time I don't get called for an interview, or get called and then not get hired, or try to decide what to do next. - posted March 18, 2015

Louise said:

Looks like this group is where I belong now. 59 and unemployed, have been looking for a job for a few years now -- off and on -- worked as a teacher for about 15 years after the kids grew up. Then Disneyland, that was fun but I live too far away and spent all my money on car expenses, so quit (and not sorry) in hopes of finding an interesting job closer to home. Still looking... - posted March 18, 2015

judy said:

I am sorry to hear all of these stories and Laurie, I'm sorry you have to sell you home and what you have been through. I had to sell my home too. The stress from the last job I had gave me a heart attack. Like DA, I have seen a number of people die from stressful mind numbing jobs. My life savings was obliterated by my illness. I have "good" health coverage. Perhaps if we can look at the United States as a crumbling empire (which it is) it will help us. It took me a long time to change my mindset from the country I grew up in--full of many opportunities to what it is now. We are peddled this "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" every day and if we FAIL it is our fault. The deck is stacked against us. The middle class was our work horse--now without the middle class we are becoming a feudal nation. WE were the middle class!! Not the first time this has happened in history. I believe this is a depression not a recession. It is too similar to what our parents went through in the thirties. We don't have the community that people had in the depression but we can help each other here! It would be great if we could organize. My best to everyone. Take care and none of us are alone in this. Don't jump off a bridge--write here instead. - posted March 18, 2015

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