July Jobless Rate for Older Workers Holds Steady at 6.2 Percent

It’s positive news that employers added a higher-than-expected 163,000 jobs in July. But the unemployment rate for older workers remained at 6.2 percent, the government reported Friday.

Still, men 55-plus actually came out ahead. Their jobless rate fell to 6.5 percent last month from 6.7 percent in June.

The rate for women, however, jumped to 6.6 percent in July from 5.8 percent the previous month, though figures for this group are not seasonally adjusted and consequently tend to be more volatile.

Nationally, the unemployment rate inched up one-tenth of 1 percent to 8.3 percent in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

With just three more jobless reports before the presidential election in November, the relentless weakness of the recovery is likely to be a major factor among voters.

About 12.8 million people remained unemployed in July. Of those who were 55 and older, an astounding one in two had been out of work for six months or more.

But older workers did get a bit of a reprieve in the average duration of unemployment: it fell to 51.4 weeks as of July from 55.6 weeks as of June. For those under 55, the duration also fell but not as much: to 34.9 weeks (July) from 35.2 weeks (June).

Chris Jones, an economist for TD Bank, says the worsening recession in Europe, and the political and fiscal uncertainties here in the United States, have restrained economic growth and left employers skittish about hiring more workers.

“Everyone’s adopted this wait-and-see attitude,” he says. “Without a sector you could point to to be the job generator and lead us out of this funk we’re in, I don’t see us materially improving in the second half of this year.”

In July, private employer payrolls grew by well above the 100,000 that economists predicted while the government lost 9,000  jobs. Since July 2009, 633,000 workers have been cut from government payrolls. The last three employment reports have been very disappointing and marked a slowdown from earlier in the year.

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Photo credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters