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.



Christine said:

Hi folks...I too am over 50 (58) and have been searching for a job. I returned to school in my late 40's and received my Master's in Counseling in 2013. I have interviewed for jobs I sincerely felt qualified for, only to not hear from them. I have a massive amount of student loan debt and a husband that believes that I am not holding up my end of the bargain by working. I do not know what to do and am embarrassed and ashamed that I have put myself and my husband in this position. I just need to work. It is comforting in a way to see others in this know that I am not alone. Thanks.

Dancer said:

I am 62, a former corporate legal secretary (25 years experience) and have been unemployed since 2011, with the exception of temp jobs and some part time employment (none in my previous field). I've net-worked, gone on on-line job sites, employment agencies and various sites such as Craigslist on a daily basis and cannot find anyone to hire me. The very few interviews I have had, I conducted myself in a professional manner, dressed accordingly and showed my interest in the position I was applying for. I am an active, physically fit and pleasant individual and I'd like to believe, intelligent. I've jumped through all the hoops and have more than willing to work for salaries that would barely keep a mouse alive. Still no job... I feel like I've landed on a strange planet. I have never in my entire adult life EVER been unable to get a job until now. I can't even get a job as a receptionist or general administrative work. I've even been open to retail positions (no experience - really?). And now days you have to have some kind of degree or certificate for everything, no matter how menial the job. I just can't wrap my mind around this. I've gone through all my savings and 401k, my unemployment has long since been exhausted and had no choice but to take my social security earlier than I had wanted to. Social security will not cover all my living expenses (mortgage, monthly assessments, utilities, bills and groceries). I have no family to help me and friends who are in similar situations. What is someone suppose to do? After working your whole life doing the right things ... and now close to being homeless and/or hungry. And worse than anything discovering that no one cares about this situation. I've emailed the White House several times about this and their response (a month or two later) was a form letter with my name plugged in expressing their concern about the employment situation in the country today. Other public officials I contacted either just put me on their official sites to email me updates on all the wonderful things they're doing for their citizens, or they don't respond at all. I guess it's true that our country just wants us all to just crawl in a hole somewhere and die. I am deeply saddened that this is what has become of our country. -posted March 3, 2015

Lori D. said:

I have been a Career Care Giver most of my life. The awful truth is that I lack the skills to change gears. My typing is too slow and technology has run far ahead of my once employable business and administrative skill set. The last time I owned a small business, it was cash in a box, a paper receipt calculator and a budget book. I can do almost anything on the computer. We need more state funded training programs to become taxpayers and consumers, again. I don't look forward to collecting SSI when I still have so much to give and owe much of what I do earn to repayment of student loans. - posted March 1, 2015

charlie mivchasrl said:

You know- Like Mary Sironen (whom I happen to know) 35 is a good age to build a life and work on the american dream. somebody get sick, lose their job soon after 40-ish, their heads are soon to be on the chopping block. unseen faces on the internet who see a list of job seekers and names, make decisions with an unseen working class. Sure they got their iphones, contacts, and loads of all kinds of jobs... But take a long hard look, for what they are, and where they will end up! another unknown face looking at no job, no employment, no insurance (A racket in itself), where the alternative will become civil war, plundering what they can sell on the street in order to have something to eat. Hate to say it but the USA is turning into the next cuba, and the us war machine- bombs, planes, military, worthless money (if you call paper money, money), and from tangible worth, the once mighty USA will have the people scrounging for food, and falling ever deeper into an unescapable well, where no one will have anything of any worth, and only weeds to eat. When the capitalists started master card or what ever the name, silver, gold, and property has made the USA something of a past memory - posted Feb. 28,2015

BustedandDiscusted said:

I MUST speak to someone else going through this!! I was laid off in June 2010 from an assistant office manager position/travel manager (aka Jack of All Trades-Master of None) and have been looking for a comparable job ever since. I am just now turning 50 and never did I think I would be in a position of being overqualified for a job since I don't have a college degree. I worked as a travel agent for years until 9/11 and decided I should change careers. Well, a career as a travel agent is dying anyway , right? I will NEVER find a job that pays even close to what I was making before my lay-off!!! I can barely get a call back after an interview. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband or I'm sure I'd be on the street. I started my own business cleaning homes, pet and house sitting and dog walking. My body is now giving out on me and it shows in my face. JUST GETTING OLDER AND MORE DISCUSTED!! Nothing but retail and minimum wage and they still don't call! -posted Feb 19, 2015

Trudy Ford said:

If the government will help people with low incomes, disabilities, children, and those who are veterans, why can't it help people over 50 who want to find work and are able to work? I hear so many people complain that we are "draining Social Security." Well, if they would keep us in the work force another 10 years, we'd be contributing to the Social Security fund much longer than we'll be drawing from it. That ought to help ensure that Social Security stays solvent for another few years, shouldn't it? Would the rest of the country rather have 70 million or 30 million people getting Social Security checks? I do not understand why employers aren't interested in hiring educated, experienced workers who have no outside obligations (i.e., no kids to raise). Most of us are "settled" in life. we know what we want, and we're not going to be out the door in a year, chasing after something better. We're good at customer service -- we actually know how to have conversations with people. We can mentor and teach younger workers. Technologically savvy? Ha! We started with typewriters and learned to use everything up to social media and smartphones. We're dependable, and we understand business. we have a work ethic. We have few debts. We show up on time and we don't expect applause for every little thing we learn or do. Many of us are willing to work for much less than we have in the past, just to be able to cover a few bills or property taxes. But I guess they'd rather pay for our Social Security and Medicare for the next 40 years. Stupid! - posted on Feb. 6, 2015

PeopleAreStupid said:

Are you peopler really that stupid? You lost your job for a reason. The Elitists want you to be poor. It isn't about what skills you know or Democrats vs Republicans (Since they are the EXACT same.) It is about making the rich, richer and if it takes running this country into the ground then so be it. There is no economic recovery! Welcome to the unemployment club. Or to the minimum wage club. And still you will probably not open up your eyes to what is really going on. People are downright stupid. This isn't a problem that the bought and paid for government can even fix, nor do they even care to fix it. Will you open your eyes when your starving? People who still have jobs are even more unaware and unintelligent to what is really going on. You will never get a job a decent as the one you had. Never. I guarantee that one. It will take starvation for Americans to realize that this was all planned. But hey, I'm the conspiracist. Sources? Proof? Stop reading the newspaper and watching TV and look around you. There is your proof! - posted on Jan. 17, 2015

Michael said:

Freelancers Could Make $930 Million In 2014 Thanks To This Economic Shift

Kevin said:

Folks, Guess I am like most of us over 50(I'm 59),fell victim to RIF(reduction in work force) in May of 2013 with a Company I had given 10 years of my life. I also Never had a problem getting a job before,actually was recruited for the position I was let go from . What I do not get is why don't these people realize that us older folks have forgotten more than than the current knows, school of Hard Knocks has no replacement ! knowledge is obtained ...not given!, I can remember my younger days when we respected the knowledge of the Elders and worked to do as they had taught us with Pride and compassion, we are a Loyal Generation ! look a what it has done for us ! Being told to stay positive....its getting harder each day as I watch All that I have worked for dwindle away...granted its only Material things and Money...can be replaced and down sizing is not a bad thing... but Gramps always told me 3 things Nobody can take away...your Pride..your integrity.. and Family..still got it Thank God and their support is Priceless...but with that said their is safety in numbers I am can we all mass again and start taking Care of US ??? There are to many of US to just let wither away...I am confused,thought I was raised to Pay forward and have as much as I I find that is a Very rare occurrence,but It should not BE ..guess I am a little disappointed in the current situation and the lack of concern with the younger generation(All for ME)....Just Venting..Thanks...I'll be Back !

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