Over 50 and Out of Work uses video to document the stories of older, unemployed Americans. To read more about the project, click here.Read More »
My April column for StayThirsty.com:
For the past year, we have traveled around the country conducting interviews for Over Fifty and Out of Work, a multimedia project that documents the impact of the Great Recession on Boomers.
We use video interviews to illuminate the real lives hidden behind the dismayingly bleak economic story: Older Americans are unemployed at higher rates than they have ever been previously, and they are out of work longer than any other age group. They have also often seen the seen the value of their homes and savings collapse as a result of the housing and financial bubbles. Lastly, when they look for new jobs, they confront the daunting double hurdles of age discrimination and a bias against hiring the unemployed.
Our interviewees are “real people with real stories,” as one of the steelworkers we interviewed in West Virginia said. Recently, we had a reminder how real our interviewees’ lives are and that their life stories do not end when the interview does.
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Lorraine Campman, 56, founder of Music Oasis Lifelong Learning Center, teaches group piano to adults at community center located in Providence Township, Penn. Uninspired by office jobs, Lorraine, an independent piano teacher since 1977, attended entrepreneurial training classes offered by WORC (Women’s Opportunities Resource Center) in Philadelphia in 2007. Shortly after she began teaching her first adult music classes, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which derailed her new business plans for two years. Fortunately, in 2010, she was able to begin implementing her five-year new business plan that had been put on hold during her treatment and recovery. She gave this advice to prospective entrepreneurs:
Don’t let the music die inside of you. If you have a dream, find a way of fulfilling that dream, and there are going to be rough spots in the road along the way, but you have to persevere, accept the help that’s available out there and do what you can to make it happen.
Lorraine added these thoughts about her entrepreneurial transformation:
I’ve been an independent piano teacher since 1977. Many people have the false assumption that when you are self-employed, you can make your own hours, but actually you have to work when your customers/students are available. For me this meant my income producing hours were limited to after school and evenings.
I had been reading in my professional journals about the concept of Recreational Music Making for adults, and saw it as an opportunity to do something new on a ground-breaking level. Through some networking I learned of an opportunity to purchase a used piano lab. I took an entrepreneurial training class called Start Smart from Women’s Opportunity Resource Center (WORC) in Philadelphia.
WORC helped me evaluate my idea, develop a business plan and launch my new micro-enterprise, Music Oasis Life Long Learning Center, group piano for active retired adults. WORC supports the development of micro-enterprises, in which a business grows in small increments without incurring too much debt up front.
For me that meant starting by teaching through my township’s Park and Recreation Department, then taking my course “on the road” to senior centers and retirement communities, installing my digital pianos as needed. My eventual goal is to develop enough of a following that I am able to open a music school in retail space and have a fully functioning piano lab where students each sit at their own instrument and use headphones for privacy.
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Gallup reported an unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) of 10.2 percent in mid-March, which is virtually unchanged from the unemployment rate of 10.3 percent it found at the end of February 2011. Worse yet, Gallup’s polling shows that the unemployment rate has been creeping up in 2011 and has returned to the 10-plus percent level Gallup found a year ago.
The underemployment rate has also increased and climbed back to the level it was a year ago, Gallup reported. Underemployment in mid-March 2011 was 19.9 percent, trending upward since the start of the year, as shown in the chart below, and has climbed back to the levels it reached in early 2010.
These findings, rather than the BLS unemployment and underemployment rates, are more consistent with the lackluster or non-existent job market that our interviewees that our interviewees describe. They say — the government keeps saying that things are getting better, but I don’t see it.Read More »
Chuck Castagnolo, founder of Bridges to Jobs, a volunteer organization, describes the path his life has taken since 2007 when he lost his job in the banking industry:
In September 2007 I found myself “Over 50 and out of Work.” Having been in the management end of the savings and loan/banking business my entire career, I was not sure what to do. The last ten years or so I had been doing real estate loans, and with 20/20 hindsight that was the beginning of the mortgage meltdown that would take our country into this Great Recession. But that was not clear back then.
With that, I started looking for a new job. I got up early in the morning to follow what I had learned and had done in the past when looking for a job. I updated my resume, posted it on the major job boards, and sat back and waited for the phone to ring, which it didn’t. What was happening this time around, however, was a slow paradigm shift in the job market and how to find a job.
The employment rate was rising, more and more people were losing their jobs, and employers were starting to become inundated with resumes they didn’t want and just didn’t have time to read. It started to seem to me the “delete” button on their keyboards was becoming their best friend.
I started attending the local unemployment office professional job search group meetings and was meeting many more people like myself who were running into the same situation – no response to their resumes. Something traumatic was in the works. Our country was changing, and as a result of the Great Recession, a lot of the jobs we formally held were no longer viable positions. Companies were learning to do more with less.
I did all the things I was told needed to be done to get a job. I shortened up my resume from six pages to two and learned how to answer those pesky interview questions; still nothing. That is when it hit me. I would probably never work again; I was too young to lose everything I had spent a career building. What do I do now? Well, I went out to the car and starting screaming. Good thing it was a cold November day and the windows were closed. Had I done that with the windows open I’m sure someone would have called an ambulance and I would have been taken away wearing one of those white jackets with long straps and nice shiny buckles.
It was then I got the idea to start Bridges to Jobs; I got to thinking no one was doing anything to psychologically prepare us for what was to come in what would be a very long job search. What about the grief of losing your job. How do I stand, sit and shake hands properly. What does my internet presence look like and what will employers look for there? What will they find if they do a background check? Who should I use for a reference? And a behavioral interview was what?
So I decided to take my second love of teaching and training and develop a series of seminars to help job seekers through this difficult time and hopefully give them a heads up on their competition by knowing what to do, say and how to act in an interview. That led me to reinvent myself as a trainer, which in turn led me to a job with a local career college helping others who are looking to advance themselves in this tight job market.
So I feel the gist of this writing is to encourage you not give up on yourself. Find a way to think out-of-the-box when it comes to looking for a job. Ask yourself how you can take your experience and skills and apply them in a new direction as that is where you new job will be. Our country has grown and prospered by people finding new ways to do things differently and better. You can be one of those too!
Bridges to JobsRead More »
Welcome to Over 50 and Out of Work! If this is your first visit, you might find this tutorial useful in in navigating the site.
Over 50 and Out of Work is an ongoing multimedia project that uses VIDEO to document the stories and impact of the Great Recession. There are a few different ways you can view the project:
1. The most detailed aspect of the project is the 100 Stories section. There you will find 100 videos of unemployed Americans over 50 telling their stories in video interviews ranging from 3 to 7 minutes. When you visit the page, scroll down to view the photographs and short quotes from each subject. When you’ve picked someone that you want to watch, click on his or her photograph, and you will be taken to a page where the video will automatically play. To narrow down the number of videos on the page, you can use the three filters at the top of the page. These will help you hone in on the videos that are most interesting to you by selecting a certain age range, location, or industry.
Because there are so many videos, and it’s hard to know which ones you might want to watch, we’ve labeled them all with “tags”. Tags are helpful little markers that correspond to the themes that each subject talks about in his or her interview. A good example might be “Age Discrimination” or “Health Insurance”. Here are a few ways you can use the tags:
- One way is to use the search box at the top of the website. Just type in any word or phrase that you’d like to learn about (for example “Unemployment Insurance”) and hit enter (or click on the magnifying glass). Any videos which have been ‘tagged’ with that word or phrase will show up in the results!
- Another way to use tags is to navigate from one video to a similar video. So let’s say you’re already on the page for Rudy Limas (he’s one of our interviewees from Oregon). Below his video is a list of all the tags that we’ve selected as relevant to his video. Click on one of them (for example, Sole Source of Family Support), and you’ll be taken to a list of all the videos on the site that share that tag.
2. To provide some context for the 100 Stories videos, we have also conducted a number of Expert interviews, ranging from economists and professors to politicians and activists. Their videos can be found at the Experts page. Just as with the 100 Stories videos, scroll down the page to see a photo and brief description of each subject. When you’ve picked one that you want to watch, click on his or her photograph and you will be taken to a page where the video will automatically play.
3. On the Documentary page, you will find some videos that we have produced as “Chapters” of a documentary film that is currently in production. Each video focuses on a different theme, issue, or location that we have covered during the course of our project. More videos are added regularly, so be sure to Stay in Touch!
4. Finally, our Blog also houses a collection of different videos. There is a series of videos about Older Entrepreneurs, a series of User-Submitted videos, and others as well. To see these videos, visit the Blog and click on one of the categories in the list on the right-hand side of the page. Each category will provide you with a list of posts that have been tagged with that category. Some are videos, and some are text.
While video is the main component of our site, we also have a Resources page with links to both helpful Organizations as well as Articles and Research about older jobseekers, the Great Recession, and more.
If you’re interested in numbers and statistics related to unemployment and older jobseekers, check out our Data page, with graphs of unemployment rate, unemployment level, and duration of unemployment for workers 50 and up.
The Interact section of the site is a place to leave comments and have a discussion with other viewers about the project and what you have seen here.
If you’d like to learn more about the project, visit our About page.
If you’d like to learn more about us, visit the Team page.
For answers to frequently asked questions, check out the FAQ page.Read More »
Today, older Americans are out of work at record rates and for longer periods of time then ever before. Boomers, who are beginning to turn 65 this year, were born into a postwar era of prosperity and optimism. The Great Recession upset the expectations held by many members of this iconic generation. Today’s unemployed boomers anticipate living longer than prior generations, but are not well prepared to do so. As their needs escalate, government at all levels is cutting back on programs and services to reduce budget deficits, while globalization races ahead.
is an ongoing multimedia project that documents the stories and the impact of the Great Recession on jobless Americans, 50 and older. The stories that boomers tell are not only about the hardships they have faced due to joblessness, but also about their hopes and fears, their expectations and disappointments, their resilience and their dreams. Their individual stories combine into a remarkable mosaic of experiences that captures the past 50 years of seismic social and economic changes in American history. Their lives have been shaped by the Sixties, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the decline of U.S. manufacturing, Reaganomics, corporate mergers and restructuring, outsourcing, 9/11 and globalization.
Boomers, often regarded as self-centered and indulgent, have left a distinct impact on the United States as they have navigated their way through the turbulent social and economic history of the country’s past half century.
Unexpected depths of courage, faith, perseverance and resilience emerge out of the lives of the boomer generation.
Our broader, long-term mission is to help people who are OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK get back into the labor force by improving the cultural perception of older workers and by influencing public policy changes that will make it easier for them to find re-employment.
The team behind OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK starts production this month on a documentary film exploring the themes and conflicts illuminated in the 100 Stories. Focusing specifically on the impact that unemployment has had on the lives of three of our interviewees, the film will present the story of being OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK in a more dramatic framework and make it available to a wider audience. Please stay tuned for more updates and videos as we get underway!