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.



K.A. Brown said:

How did people survive before jobs??? A job is an illusion. Most of is need to find a WAY to survive. - posted April 29, 2016

Sheila said:

I was made redundant from a fantastic and rewarding position at the end of 2011. Early 2012 saw me in a contract role working in the city. During this time my mother took seriously ill and so I opted to leave the contract and spend time with her. Thankfully I saw her through what time she had left. I then required orthopaedic surgery to both hips and have recently recovered from thyroid trouble. All is well now and I should like to return to work....... Not a chance. No way will I get back into a fulfilling and meaty job at my ripe age of 60. The business world is not equipped these days to handle old school brains and work ethic. Such a pity. Such wasted talent out there. Not entitled to any form of social benefit, I am forced to wait another 5 years for my hard earned government pension. Lets hope things aren't like this for our children and their children also. - posted April 28. 2016

K.A. Brown said:

I'm in the same boat as most of you are. However, we've got to find a way to make it. We can't give up!!! Can you bake great cookies, can you sing, can you write, etc. Do that SOMETHING that YOU take for granted. Then, just perhaps you can earn a profit from it. You may not get rich, but it'll keep your cash flowing until you can make another move. It's time to THINK REALISTICALLY. Because most of us are 50 and over, we can't afford to sit back and wait for someone to rush in and save the day. Remember: MIND over MATTER and where there IS A WILL, there's A WAY. God Bless. Good luck. - posted April 27, 2016

Renee Irvine said:

From a business standpoint it makes sense to hire someone half my age and half my pay. I don't agree or like it but there is little I can do. My biggest frustration is being kicked to the curb with no care or concern what so ever about me as a human being. No Health Insurance, Denied Unemployment, Denied all my vacation pay being paid to me. I am a 49 year old Breast Cancer Survivor and even getting state assistance is almost impossible. If I was a displaced person from a different country I would have assistance.....does that even make sense. This country is one big nightmare. - posted April 23, 2016

Michele said:

@Maria: Sounds like the prospective employer backtracked/got himself out of hot water on his age-related comment (or he thought you were hot stuff)...either one of which was professionally inappropriate. A few other things: The recruiter works for the employer, not the applicants. So when they said you weren't a good fit, even though you have all the skills, there were also other things to consider. That could include cultural fit (the culture of the company)--and yes that could include age...OR other things. Skills and experience aren't everything, no matter what job you apply for. In any case, it wasn't a good fit, rather than your skill set. The recruiter was absolutely right in only keeping 10 yrs of experience on your resume. That's how far back anyone should go (generally speaking) and ESPECIALLY if you are older and want that call. If anything, you can add other jobs under additional experience or related experience, but if you already have ten years of AA experience on your resume and you're trying to take the focus off age, that's the way to do it. She also removed the year of college graduation from your resume so that doesn't draw attention to your age (and also because that's the general concensus as well). If you recently graduated and for the first few years--with little or no experience--it should be on there. After that? Nope. The only exception would be if you are returned to school and got your degree later in life. For instance, I returned and got my degree at age 44. So for the first few years after that, I included my year of graduation because it made prospective employers and recruiters THINK I was a young kid graduating from college. It was an asset then, not a liability. It sounds like the recruiter was actually trying to help you, not hurt you, in this process, by caring enough to get rid of some of the things that shouldn't be on there and give you the best chance with selling you to the employer. I'm really sorry it didn't work out. As far as COBRA, when I left a job and was eligible for COBRA because of my divorce, I was told by someone to try to find other options, as it's usually the MOST costly (but that may have changed). Have you looked into the Healthcare Marketplace for options for the self-employed? Maybe if you could find something cheaper, you could afford to start that business! :-) All the best to you and your husband. - posted April 19, 2016

Maria said:

I lost my job as an Executive Assistant over three months ago. Nine months earlier, the company asked me to train a new hire. She stayed. I was let go. Two months later, my former company hired a new assistant to replace my job. She is in her late 20's. I am over 45 years old and even though I have a degree from a top university and years of experience, I can not get an job offer. In one instance, a prospective employer said "You sure don't look like you have a son in college". He later apologized for that comment. Later on, the recruiter told me that this company was going to pass because "I was not the right fit" even though the Hiring Manager have said I had all the skills/experience for this job. All I have to do is look at the job postings "3-5 years experience" which translates to don't bother to apply if you are not 30 years old or younger. Another recruiter who liked my resume and experience, simply left my last 10 years of experience on my resume and deleted the rest. She also removed the year I graduated from college. "You don't really need have this" She said. I have even thought about starting my own business, but I need health insurance for me and my husband who is self-employed. We are paying $1380/month for COBRA. This is very discouraging. - posted April 18, 2016

Crystal said:

My husband and I are both over fifty. Our severances happened suddenly and without ensuing packages. The job searches that followed were brutal. We were surprised to discover already that in the work world we're considered to be at the end of our cycle of usefulness. We're not incapable or obtuse, but that's not the point. We're older. Our speed is reduced, our vision and inclinations, mired in a different ethic. Not to mention that our paradigms have been honed by experience, maturity and a bit of cynicism. Exuberance and naivety are commodities of youth. Employers figure that we can't be compensated badly and still be happy. So money and the simple honest acquisition of it has been a real challenge for us. The good positions and salaries go to younger folks and we find ourselves unable to dig ourselves out of the hole part-time work and inadequate pay have created. Friends who, for no other reason than luck and more artfully negotiated union contracts are much better off. We have an impossible mountain of debt and no hope of climbing it. -posted April 18, 2016

Sick of it said:

IT company I worked at in DC area, systems integraters, our subcontractor found an older guy in TX, a consultant, with PeopleSoft skills. The guy impressed the Government in the orals. The subcontractor told us he was going to bring him on if we won. He would leave his current job and move to Annapolis, MD from TX with his family. Subcontractor confided that he would let him go after a month. Fortunately we did not get the contract. Nobody thought that it would be wrong to treat someone like this. Washington dc area people live from contract to contract. No retirement and 401ks that you never get fully vested in, or worthless company stock. I witnessed a diaper being put on an older woman's chair. Most vicious behavior toward older adults is usually tacitly promoted from management. I have seen more men cry in meetings than women. I have seen people get in serious trouble for something they did not do to make them leave. Quality of life at work diminishes as you get older and it doesn't matter how much advanced education and certs you have. You identify yourself by your job and pledge loyalty for nothing. No stability whatsoever. -posted April 17, 2016

Ann McCain said:

The government contractors I have worked for generally boot the older, expensive workers and replace them with younger cheaper workers after gaining the Gov. Pm's confidence. The companies parade their resumes in the proposals and have them speak at the proposal orals. Very common in tech Industry HB1saves money. - posted April 16, 2016

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