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.



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

Laurie Bertolett said:

Thank you for making a documentary that try's to connect the dots in terms of what baby boomers are being forced to deal with at this stage in their lives. I too am struggling with my identity right now. For the first time in my life (am 57) I am feeling lost and broken. I have always gone after what I wanted, and succeeded fairly well in obtaining it. I would have never guessed that society would "put me out to pasture" this early! After dedicating my life ( by choice) to raising two boys as a stay-at-home mom, all the while going to school part-time to east a Masters degree in Counseling, find myself in a foreign landscape that I did not know existed . I too, have done everything that I thought was right. Getting a good education was certainly one of them. So I obtained my B.S. In Education, and a M. A. In Counseling. I have also kept up with various certifications to keep me viable in my chosen field. I have proved myself time and again at the college that I work for for nine years now. After applying for over 20 full-time positions there and snagging 4 interviews, I have not been hired for one of them. With all of my excellent recommendations in hand, the offers elude me. I am "allowed" to teach as an adjunct, and work as an hourly counselor for them, but that is as far as it goes. I am grateful to work in my field, but have never had a stable income. I do not know from semester to semester how many hours that I will get be it teaching or counseling. I am the poster child for the unemployed. Everyone around me is telling me it is my age. I have to tell you, as someone who looks 10 years younger and in excellent health, this is roving me to my core. I too am losing my self-confidence day to day, and fighting depression as I write this. I am struggling to accept that this is not going to change, and try to accept my window of time for getting hired full time has come and gone. Like the rest of the commenters here, I am devastated. I am now filing a grievance against the college for age discrimination. Not that this will help, but I am not giving up without a fight! So yes, we do need to speak up and protest age discrimination with all of the courage that we can muster. My husband will now need to sell our home just to make ends meet on his income. Yet, my employer cares nothing about helping me to find a solution that could help us. Even a part-time, but permanent job would help! Apply at other organizations you might ask? I have sent out at least 100 resumes this past year alone. Now, I am tired of surviving and just want to become invisible- because this is what I am...invisible. My heart goes out to all of you. - posted March 17, 2015

Lucy said:

This message is for all the Baby Boomers that are struggling. I too am struggling and I pray to God everyday for His help. I have been a lot of horrific financial situations and I ask Him for his help. So far, He has miraculously responded. I experienced many miracles just by asking Him - He delivers in His own time and His own way. All you have to do is ask. Still struggling but I have faith in Him. KEEP THE FAITH AND KEEP GOING! - posted March 15, 2015

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