Sunday, August 24, 2008

United States: Evaluation of Demand for Older Employees

An analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while the slowing economy has dampened the demand for older workers, the number of workers 55 and older is still growing significantly--shattering any myth that older workers are particularly vulnerable in this economic downturn. According to the Challenger report, employment among those 55 and older grew by 3.7% from July 2007 to July 2008 while the number of employed aged 20-44 declined by an average of 1.3%.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said that “The fact is pared down companies may increasingly rely on seasoned veterans to get them through the downturn. They may cost more in salary and benefits, but their experience and knowledge make them highly valued.”

The Challenger report also suggests that it is also a myth that older workers are for the most part underemployed, seemingly able to find only part-time, hourly wage positions in retail and other low-skill service industries, as the biggest employment gains for workers 55 and older occurred within management, professional and related occupations. In addition, the report notes that the preference for older workers can be seen in the significant drop in the amount of time it takes job seekers 50 and older to find new positions:
The median job search for those over 50 winning positions in the second quarter lasted 4.2 months, according to the latest Challenger quarterly survey of discharged managers and executives. That is just about two weeks longer than younger job seekers, whose median job search time in the second quarter was 3.6 months.
Source: Central Valley Business Times "Report: Older workers still in demand" (August 21, 2008)

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