According to unemployment statistics from December 2008, the current economic slowdown has substantially increased the unemployment rate for older Americans. In the fact sheet prepared for the Urban Institute, "Senior Unemployment Rate Hits 31-Year High", unlike most previous recessions, Richard W. Johnson points out that 5.1% of workers age 65 and older were unemployed, a higher share than at any time since March 1977.
In the current recession, the age-65-and-older unemployment rate has increased by 1.7 percentage points since November 2007, the last month before it began, while 13 months into the severe 1981–82 recession—-the most recent downturn to have lasted as long as the current one—-the number of unemployed older adults had not increased at all. However, Johnson points out that "the recession has not yet discouraged many older job seekers. Since November 2007, the share of adults not in the labor force has not declined at ages 55 to 64 or at ages 65 and older."
Source: Urban Institute Research Summary (January 14, 2009)