Tough road for the older unemployed

A growing group of people age 55 and beyond are desperately looking for work.

By Kim Peterson Sep 20, 2010 12:59PM
working in retirement © Andersen Ross/Getty ImagesThe New York Times profiles one group that has suffered greatly in the economic meltdown: older unemployed workers.

They are a growing group, this category of people in their 50s and 60s who need some income to get through their last decade or so before retirement. They "are starting to worry that they may be discarded from the work force -- forever," Motoko Rich writes.

The unemployment rate for people age 55 or older is 7.3% -- twice what it was before the latest recession started, Rich writes. About 2.2 million people in this age group don't have a job.

It's heartbreaking to talk to people in this group -- people who have worked steadily for decades, only to see what should have been the zenith of their careers crumble under devastating layoffs. Now they're nervously sending out résumés and slowly selling their possessions to make house payments and pay bills.

The poverty rate in this age group is rising, from 8.6% in 2007 to 9.4% last year, the Times reports.

Experts tell Rich that these older workers could become a policy problem if they can't support themselves. "That's what we should be worrying about," one professor said, "what it means to this class of the new unemployables, people who have been cast adrift at a very vulnerable part of their career and their life."

For many of them, finding jobs means overcoming two formidable hurdles: conquering new technology and beating out younger candidates. Both can be very difficult.

"The longer someone is out of work, the more employers are going to question why it is that someone hasn't been able to find work," an AARP adviser told Rich. "Their skills have atrophied, for one thing, and technology changes so rapidly that even if nothing happened to the skills that you have, they may become increasingly less relevant to the jobs that are becoming available."

21Comments
Jan 11, 2011 5:07PM
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I'm sick of hearing about the baby boomers retiring and putting a strain on the Social Security.  What happened to all the money the baby boomers put in over the last who knows how many years!  I have been working since the age of sixteen and am turning fifty-eight.  I have no clue if or when I can draw Social Security.  Who spent the money I put in.  And yes my husband turned fifty nine and his company shut down and went to China.  I work every night and go home and help him search the internet for a job.  He has seven years of Vocational School and thirty eight years of experience.  He can't find a job because the young always get the job!
Dec 18, 2010 4:40PM
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So, what are we to do now that retirement ages are increasing? I want to work right now at age  55, can't get a job because I'm not under 30, & SS retirement age is increasing, soon to 70? Am I supposed to live in a box, under a bridge? Would the mental giants that be in Washington DC please pull out these magical jobs from their collective arses and let the rest us us unwashed masses work?
Dec 3, 2010 9:53AM
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The opportunities that are available are limited by our own despair, disenchantment and and lack of a zest for life.  For anyone who needs help,  keep in mind that every positive in your life is an opportunity to build a new you.  

Nov 28, 2010 11:19PM
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I lost my job of ten years. I sat in the waiting room waiting for my turn at the job interview.I was surrounded by mostly young women with lots of cleavage. The young , young man who would hire me or not  came out personally to invite them into his big,lush office one by one. He lookedaround at all of them admiringly as If he was making a decision about which one he'd buy. I was invisible. After 35 minutes I laughed out loud and left. I began working at 8 years old and never stopped until now at 60. I 'm all done. I am going to take the money I paid into the system and spend my time helping others and not being enslaved any longer. I am about to be homeless as well because I can't afford rent for the first time in my life. Because I am a tough boomer, I will get through all of this and deal with it. Unlike so many spoiled, dillusional youguns who don't realize that they will come for them one day too.They are not as resourceful as we are.
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