If you read any of our "Unemployment Stories" series a few years ago, you heard dozens of tales of older Americans who lost their jobs and were unable to get back on their feet. New survey data shows just how bad unemployment in later life can be.
Unemployment is bad. Long-term unemployment is a plague all its own, a slow dive down what can seem like an inescapable hole. As workers reach middle age and beyond, the consequences of being laid off grow graver—because the ease of being rehired shrinks. A survey by the AARP explores just how dicey the unemployment situation is for the AARP demographic.
Long-term unemployment is rampant: "On average, 45 percent of older jobseekers (ages 55 and older) were long-term unemployed (out of work for 27 weeks or more) in 2014."
Job seekers over the age of 55 who do find new jobs are subject to underemployment, lacking hours and/ or sufficient pay: "They were twice as likely to be working part time as the total workforce ages 45 to 70 (34 percent compared with 16 percent). Many who were employed part time said that they preferred a full-time job—about 47 percent overall... Almost half (48 percent) of the reemployed said that they were earning less on their current jobs than the job they had before they most recently become unemployed."
As you get older, your chances for a good new job after unemployment get worse: "About 46 percent of the reemployed ages 45 to 61 were earning less compared with 62 percent of those ages 62 to 70."
Likewise, the longer you're unemployed, the worse your chances of continuing your career: "Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the long-term unemployed had a job in a different occupation than the one they had before becoming unemployed. By comparison, 46 percent of the short-term unemployed were in a different occupation."