Americans age 55 and older are struggling to rebound from a dramatic spike in unemployment since December 2007.Seniors have experienced consistently longer periods of unemployment than younger workers, as employers seek cheaper labor and look to skirt potentially higher health care costs, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office released earlier this year.
The unemployment rate for workers age 55+ more than doubled to 7.6 percent in February 2010 from 3.1 percent in December 2007. As of July, nearly two million older workers –- 6.2 percent -– were seeking a job.
Although the unemployment rate is lower than the national average of 8.3 percent, Americans 55 and older who were unemployed had been seeking work for an average of 51 weeks -– compared to 37.4 weeks for the population as a whole. Older workers make up more than half of the long-term unemployed.
“A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job in the next three months,” wrote economists Dean Baker and Kevin Hassett noted in a New York Times op-ed piece last spring.” A worker who is 62 or older and in the same situation has only about a 6 percent chance. As unemployment increases in duration, these slim chances drop steadily.”
Long-Term Unemployment: A National Crisis For Older Workers