Friday, March 09, 2012

Report: Older Workers Experiencing Disproportionately Longer Periods without Work

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has issued an issue brief finding that prolonged spells of joblessness--of a year or more--have disproportionately affected older unemployed workers (those aged 50 years and older) throughout the recession and its aftermath. According to "Economy in Focus: Long Road Ahead for Older Unemployed Worker," the number of long-term unemployed older workers has more than quintupled, to 1.8 million in 2011, and, compared to other age groups, once older workers became unemployed, they were most likely to become long-term unemployed.

During 2011, more than half of older jobless workers were out of work for six months or more, and four in ten older unemployed workers were out of work for at least one year in 2011. While older workers were underrepresented among the unemployed (23.5%) relative to their share of the labor force in 2011 (31.5%), they were overrepresented among the long-term unemployed (29.2%) relative to their share of the unemployed. Even though older workers had the lowest average monthly unemployment rate in 2011 (6.7%), it is more than double their rate in 2007 (3.1%), and older workers experienced the greatest percentage increase in the size of their unemployed population--more than doubling from 1.3 million in 2007 to 3.2 million in 2011.

NELP concludes by recommending:
Policymakers are tasked with developing new ways to help older unemployed workers more quickly find their way back to good employment and financial self-sufficiency. This includes addressing the problem of discrimination against the unemployed. Federal legislation banning this practice is pending; state legislation modeled on this bill has been proposed in thirteen states. This also includes addressing the special training needs of older workers, who are more likely to require assistance aligning their skills with the needs of growing industries, and exploring targeted reemployment strategies
Sources: National Employment Law Project News Release (March 9, 2012); Huffington Post "Jobs Report: When Will Things Get Better For Older Workers Who've Lost Their Jobs?" (March 9, 2012)

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