Are older workers really faring better in this recession-wracked job market?
Just seven percent of workers over 55 were jobless in October, compared with a nine percent national average, the
The health of the employment market for older workers is a critical factor in the future economic security of seniors, since job loss in later life can wreck even the best-laid retirement plan. But it's also a key issue as
But the lower jobless rates doesn't really reflect a healthier job market for older workers.
Employers tend to hang on longer to more experienced workers, she says. The lower jobless rate also reflects a greater tendency of older workers to become discouraged about finding new jobs, and drop out of the labor force entirely.
The discouragement isn't difficult to understand. Once older workers do lose their jobs, it takes much longer to find new ones -- if they're able to find jobs at all. The BLS report for October stated that it took 52.9 weeks for workers over age 55 to find new jobs, compared with 37.3 weeks for younger workers.
Age discrimination certainly plays a role in the longer job hunts, Rix says. But another factor is reduced mobility. The housing crash has made it difficult for many people to sell their homes in order to move for a new job. And, she notes that "older workers may be ready and willing to move for a new job, but they're not always able to do it due to a spouse with a well-established career," she says.
Rix thinks some older workers struggle to acclimate to job hunting when they've out of the market for a long time. "At least initially after a job loss, there's evidence that workers who do get offers tend to hold out for something better. As the jobless period gets longer, they're willing to accept less than at the beginning."
There are several problems with that argument. First, most of the longevity gains are going to affluent Americans with access to better health care and diets, and occupations that are less demanding physically. What's more, only about one-fifth of
Although benefits are withheld for early filers who earn more than a certain amount, those payments are added back after the Normal Retirement Age (NRA) is reached -- the age when you qualify for full benefits. For 2011, that amount is
The share of workers age 55-64 is at its highest point since the
The net effect of all this?
We're already are working longer, and receiving lower
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