Monthly Archives: March 2015

Losing a job is always terrible. For workers over 50, it’s worse.

By Lydia DePillis

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At first blush, it wouldn’t appear that older workers have it all that bad in today’s economy. They got their start long before the economy’s Troubles really began seven years ago (or even 17 years ago). They had time to sock away money while times were still good.

The unemployment rate among workers over 55 is 4.1 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for the population overall, and labor force participation among older workers has been rising since the early 1990s. That’s arguably a better position to be in than that of a young person whose earnings potential has been forever damaged by starting out in the Great Recession.

More older people have been working longer. (AARP Public Policy Institute)

But the headline statistics hide a harsher reality: older workers who do lose a job spend longer periods out of work, and if they do find another job, it tends to pay less than the one they left. A new survey from the AARP sheds a lot of light on how older people react to sudden unemployment, what their new work looks like, and why.

Older workers make up a bigger share of the long-term unemployed

First, let’s look at long-term unemployment data, which show that older people have a harder time landing jobs after losing one. (The next few charts are from a slide deck by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief Economist Heidi Shierholz, who spoke at the AARP’s report launch event Monday morning.) Although overall unemployment is lower among workers over 55, the situation is reversed when it comes to long-term unemployment:

(U.S. Department of Labor)

(U.S. Department of Labor)

Not only that, but older workers who’ve lost a job they’ve been in for a long time are more often just leaving …read more