According to EPI Issue Brief 251--"Older Americans in the recession: More are staying in the workforce, more are losing their jobs", workers 55 and over are 18.8% of the total population employed in the United States, up from 17.9% in December 2007; the number of unemployed workers 55 and over has increased 56.8% in less than a year.
Displacement rates – which measure job losses due to plant closures, the elimination of positions, or other shifts in labor demand – are at the highest level on record for older workers. “Older workers were already more susceptible to displacement in 2007 than their predecessors were 10 or even 20 years ago, and this trend is exacerbated by the recession,” said [the report’s author, EPI researcher Emily] Garr. “More and more older workers are truly between a rock and a hard place. Retirement is not an option, but jobs that they can live on are getting scarcer.”In addition, while the report finds some evidence suggesting that older workers may be better able than younger counterparts to find or maintain jobs in this recession, data show that employment activity reflects poor financial circumstances or delayed retirement rather than increased job opportunities.
Source: Economic Policy Institute Press Release (February 4, 2009)