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Sloan Center News

Layoffs Toughest on Young, Older Workers

6 September 2009—Currently, write Mike Schneider and Errin Haines of the Associated Press, "the groups associated with the highest stress scores in each U.S. county are men and women between ages 25 and 29 and women over age 55. That doesn't necessarily mean having a high percentage of people in those groups causes a county's economic health to worsen, though the two appear to go hand in hand.

Experts said a variety of factors may be at play.

Young adults are more at risk for losing their jobs and homes in a recession, while people later in life are more likely to declare bankruptcy in order to protect their assets, said Tay McNamara, director of research at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. "

"Last hired, first fired. Generally, that is very true," McNamara said.

"Though younger people may be more likely to be laid off, older workers are less likely to recover from a layoff, experts said. Part of the reason stems from the myths surrounding older workers—that they're tough to train, more expensive and not comfortable with new technology," said Joseph Quinn, a professor of economics at Boston College and Researcher with the Sloan Center.

"Once they do get laid off, they're really hosed," Quinn said.