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The New Unemployables—Issue Brief

the new unemployables: older job seekers struggle to find work during the great recession

by Maria Heidkamp, Nicole Corre & Carl E. Van Horn

November 2010—Only 1% of unemployed older workers said they are very optimistic that they will find a job in the near future, while 30% said they were very pessimistic, according to the sobering New Unemployables study by Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

As 2010 draws to a close there are roughly 15 million unemployed Americans continuing their search for jobs. The percent of job seekers designated as “long-term unemployed” – those unemployed 27 or more weeks – has never been higher.

Less likely to find new employment, older job seekers are currently feeling financial pressure:

  • 40% rated their financial situation as poor, and 61% said they have adjusted their plans for retirement.
  • 41% of older workers (employed and unemployed) indicated they have no health care benefits.
  • Over half (51%) of older workers reported foregoing medical care for themselves or their families, compared to 35% of younger workers.
  • 30% of older workers indicated that they had more in credit card debt than retirement savings.
  • Fully two thirds (67%) reported using money from savings to make ends meet.

In order to land a job, older job seekers have been willing to make sacrifices, including:

  • Willingness to adapt to the depressed job market by changing careers (69%).
  • Willingness to take a pay cut (77%), compared to 64% of prime age job seekers
  • However, only 12% of older workers had taken a class or training course for skills to get a new job, compared to 20% of younger workers.

Overall, older job seekers expressed that age discrimination was a major factor contributing to their failure to find a job.

» Access the Issue Brief—The New Unemployables: Older Job Seekers Struggle to Find Work During the Great Recession—Comparing the Job Search, Financial, and Emotional Experiences of Older and Younger Unemployed Americans

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