As the end of 2012 approaches, we are relieved that the majority of our 100 interviewees from our multimedia project Over 50 and Out of Work have been able to find jobs over the past year. Some of our happiest moments in 2012 occurred when we received calls and emails from our interviewees in Michigan, Oregon and California, letting us know that they had been able to return to work.
However, almost all of our successful job seekers have had to accept a substantial cut in pay and many do not receive healthcare benefits in their new positions. Although the crisis of unemployment has ended for many people, the aftereffects linger: They are still trying to rebuild savings, waiting for the value of their homes to rebound and worrying about their futures.
Nationally, the unemployment rate among older workers remains at record levels, and the average number of weeks that older workers are unemployed is still longer than one year. In sum, recovery from the Great Recession for workers over the age of 50 continues, but it is uncertain and slow.
In 2012, we also launched our documentary Set for Life. The film follows three Baby Boomers who struggle to recover from the devastating impact of losing their jobs during the Great Recession.
At its Massachusetts Independent Film Festival premier in September, Set for Life won “Best Feature Documentary.” It has also been shown at Louisville’s International Festival of Film, the Hartford Flick-Fest and the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
Reviews and feedback on our film:
• Set for Life puts a human face on one of the most vexing problems facing American society: in a competitive global economy, how can we secure for older workers the opportunity and esteem that come with work? The film is a valuable resource for anyone who cares about the future of the American Dream.
– Professor Jan W. Rivkin, Harvard Business School
• What a compelling documentary and such a frank exploration of what people are dealing with in this economy. Thank you for producing this film and for sharing it with the public. Every legislator in the United States should see this film so that they see firsthand what the citizens of this great nation are facing.
– Audience member
• Set for Life vividly displays the plight of older workers in the aftermath of the financial crisis. We see and hear a lot about what they’ve lost – steady employment, health and health insurance, even their homes. But what comes across most powerfully is the grace with which many of the individuals who were interviewed are handling the reversal of their longstanding hopes and expectations. Set for Life is an important window into the America we are fast becoming, and it is well worth watching.
– Professor Sandra Sucher, Harvard Business School
• Maybe Set for Life resonates so strongly with me because it is largely about my generation – that group of late Boomers caught in this horrible recession during what should be their peak earning years. Their stories of hardship, desperation, and heartbreak are playing across the nation, and shame on us, if we do not take them seriously and demand that America’s employers and policy makers do the same.
– Professor David Yamada, Suffolk Law University
• I thought the film was well done, moving and eye opening. And although I am a student at Rutgers, the stories resonated with me as I have a few relatives that have been laid off and experienced similar hardships like those profiled in the film. Great documentary.
– Audience member
Set for Life will be screened on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at the upcoming New Jersey Film Festival and at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. (date and time to be announced). We will continue to post updates about future screenings on our website and social media. Let us know if you would like to help us arrange a screening in your state or community.
Our best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year! We hope all those who are seeking employment find good jobs in 2013.
Sue Sipprelle & Sam Newman