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.



L said:

Oh ageism is real. I was laid off from a law firm in January 2015 due to my partner attorney finding a new job and lack of receipts in our firm that were expected for operating expenses. I have been temping sporadically but I am in Washington, DC where supposedly there are plenty of jobs. I have applied for almost 50 jobs so far. I have to have interviews for the TEMP jobs. I notice that the permanent jobs advertised have more than one placement agency trying to fill to get their placement fee. So there may be 5 ads for the same job. When I get a temp job, I ask if the job will become permanent but they are interviewing other people for it and don't want to consider me. I type 85 wpm, I have a notary commission, I can scan, redline, draft pleadings, cover letters and do time entry, billing, powerpoint, summation, westcheck and Pacer. I can only come to the conclusion that my age of 54 is offputting. I notice when I walk on the sidewalk that younger people want to bowl me over. Younger people have become rude and inconsiderate to me. I am sick of living in this arena. If I had people in my age group around I might be able to maintain my sanity. I am surrounded by plaid shirts, and flibbertygibbits and immigrants. I am getting disgusted with life. If I don't get a job soon, I will have to sell my house and euthanize my pets. -posted May 24, 2015

Tom said:

Meg, are you sure you weren't reading my mind and just putting it online with your name on it? I know exactly how you feel. I am also invisible and live in Scottsdale Arizona, land of the snobby and augmented and I refuse to participate. It's funny when I go in the gym and realize I am in much better shape than 90% of the younger men in there and still, I am ignored and I feel like I am "creepy" if I speak to the younger women (not trying to hit on them, I like woman my own age). The men are more respectful because of my physical presence but don't seem interested in conversing with me. Job wise, I am a leper like you. 56, making a living at a job now with no future but no interest from companies that I feel I would bring a lot to the table. Women my age looking for younger guys and married people shunning me. My friends have abandoned me and although they could help me in my efforts to find a job or network, they don't. My current job is set to end soon and they know it and still don't offer a life line. Worse yet, not having someone in my life to encourage me is tough. I can't burden my sons, they are on the road to success and I don't want to hold them back....I am truly lost. My mental shape is as good as my physical shape but it definitely is being challenged. - posted May 21, 2015

Jenny said:

Why don't we all make a friend group to enjoy our Retirements days ... All of us we are facing the same! I'm 59 with a younger heart but my body stop me, I'm glad I found This website in not alone.. Reading many have the same situation I was thinking myself why go I feel alone, why everybody so many things Why everybody have social life and not me..I'm stuck home watching TV in where sometime I need company at least to shopping around to buy a nice dress or nice perfume Or go tons gallery art together enjoying life, but none of this Happening is a vicious circle and I don't like it.. this - posted May 20, 2015

Garth said:

I think 50 is a age when the younger generations just don't want anything more to do with you and we are stuck in a time glitch. I'm 53, and because I still have a young heart and outlook...I think people think I'm a freak. I'm still as active as I was when I was younger and I think people in general frown on that. It's almost as though we are expected to go out and buy canes and be brittle. I've worked hard jobs all my life and I'm still fit and I can still do the stuff I did when I was 20 but yet if I do so...people look at me strangely. I've been laid off as of lately because of the economy...but it's not looking good for work. I'm beginning to get depressed also. If anything is going to break will be how useless I feel. Unfortunately I didn't think for my future...I thought of my previous past relations futures and each time I went into a relationship I left everything behind. Now I have nothing and I feel like nothing. I had always thought as we was supposed to be better but unfortunately it really isn't. If I can land a good job here soon...I'll be saving and maybe try to make a go at starting my own business of some sort because no one wants to hire someone old and if they do it feels as though it's for charity or they feel sorry for you. This isn't fun at all. I know how every single one of you feel...I feel for you. If things keep going how they are I think I'll just cash in. I guess I lived my life. - posted on May 17, 2015

The Solution to Unemployment? Turning Job Seekers Into Job Creators | said:

[…] Three million Americans over the age of 50 and roughly 75 million formative years worldwide are at the moment in search of work, with many extra not being accounted for as they reside and work in informality. On The Subject Of formative years unemployment, the ILO has warned of a “scarred” Era of Younger workers dealing with a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased state of being inactive and precarious work in developed international locations, in addition to constantly high working poverty within the growing world. […]

Sue said:

Dear Delores, 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

Delores said:

I'll turn 51 this June. I am educated and extremely poor. I spend more time looking for work than I do working. I am so tired of being poor. If hell did not exist, I'd kill myself immediately. The sad part is that I think I've given up hope.

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

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