Job Gains for the 55-Plus: Not Too Shabby

Now hiring sign on whiteboard held by smiling manEmployers capped a year of solid hiring by adding 252,000 jobs to the economy in December — and older workers welcomed those gains. The national unemployment rate for people 55-plus dipped by 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent last month, a bigger monthly decline than the rate for workers overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Better still, workers 55 and older saw their jobless rate fall over the past year from 5.1 percent in December 2013.

Older women seemed to benefit from a stronger economy more than men over the last year; their rate declined from 4.9 percent in December 2013 to 3.6 percent last month. The rate for men dipped from 5.3 percent in December 2013 to 4.2 percent last month, the BLS said.

Sara Rix, a senior strategic policy adviser for AARP, says 2014 ended on a high note as more older workers were in the labor force than at the start of the Great Recession in 2008.

“The employment situation for older workers looks far more promising than it has in a long while, judging from the large decline in the unemployment rate for the aged 55-plus workforce over the past year and the uptick in the proportion of older workers with jobs,” she said. “As growing numbers of boomers move through their 50s and 60s, this may point to expanding opportunities for those who want or need to postpone retirement.”

Workers of all ages benefited from the hiring trend as the national jobless rate dipped by 0.2 percent to 5.6 percent in December, the lowest level in six years, according to the BLS.

While economists agree that 2014 had sustained solid job growth — gains averaged 246,000 per month in 2014 compared with an average monthly gain of 194,000 in 2013 — the U.S. recovery still has a ways to go.

Elise Gould, senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a research group in Washington, says it will take at least 2½ more years for the labor force to return to its prerecession health — if the level of job growth continues. She adds that strong wage growth, something workers haven’t seen for decades, is needed to hasten the recovery.

Gould attributed the decline in the unemployment rate to people getting jobs but also to workers leaving the labor force, because they either retired or became so discouraged with the hunt for a job that they stopped looking and therefore weren’t counted among the unemployed.

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Some 8.7 million people were out of work in December. Nearly 32 percent were unemployed for six months or more, the BLS said.

Older unemployed workers continued to have it tough. Their average duration of unemployment in December remained much higher than for people under age 55 — 54.3 weeks compared with 28.2 weeks.

According to the BLS, the industries that added the most jobs included professional and business services, construction, food services and drinking places, health care and manufacturing.

 Photo: Kritchanut/iStock

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4 comments
velkins
velkins 5pts

I can't say that I have seen a change for the better.  I have been out of work now for almost 3 years.  I have gone back to school and got yet another degree, do volunteer work and have applied for 100's of jobs.  I 've had very few interviews and no job offers.  Most times I don't even get a response back after applying or interviews.


I was laid off from a job I had held for more than 12 years, saying that they didn't have enough work to justify keeping me on.  Yet they hired someone to replace me less than a month later that was half my age.  I was given a small severance after sign a document that said that I would not come after them later for any reason, otherwise I would forfeit the severance.


I checked into filing for age discrimination, but was told that they would need to contact my past employer before they would even determine if I had a case.  And told me that I was better off just taking the severance, because my chances of winning my case, if I had one was almost nil.


With living in an at will state, employees are left at the mercy of the employer, because in an at will state, an employer can lay off or fire anyone for any or no reason.  This kind of invalidates the laws that were put in place to protect employees.   You can request that they provide you  an explanation for letting you go, but if like me the only thing you get back from them is a snotty e-mail or letter stating that your lay off was at will and that is all they have to tell you.


It also doesn't help that companies are laying off people so that they can reduce cost to collect their bonuses that range in the millions.  The CEO of my company received an 13.3 million dollar bonus for his company wide lay-offs, that were primarily made up of their older, long term employees.   Corporate exec's keep getting richer and richer, bigger and bigger bonuses, while their employees continue to get paid less and less, get fewer and fewer benefits that they pay more and more for and worry more and more each day if they will have a job tomorrow, especially if they are over 40.    And there options are few when an employer can get someone half your age to fill the spot for less than half of what you may be asking for in pay.


So much for the American dream,  followed all the rules, got 3 degrees, worked hard, was honest and loyal.    And what did I get for it, laid off after 12 years after I turned 54, for no reason, and no prospects for another job anytime in my near future.  Best I can hope for is a minimum wage job where I'm on my feet the whole time, which is hard for me since I have back problems.  What a way to get rewarded for all my years of working. 


bm1185
bm1185 5pts

I don't know where to post, but is anyone interested in Mystery calling? 

2Papa
2Papa 5pts

Maybe employers are finally realizing older workers are better workers.