Monday, September 20, 2010

A little older, a little wiser, a little poorer

There is a silent army out there -- older workers who find themselves at the peak of their careers but also find themselves out of work. They carry with them a treasure of knowledge and experience, as well as good working habits, but they're often put aside in favor of younger workers.

The baby boom is in this group, and it was inevitable as this huge bulge in the population tried to squeeze into the fewer jobs at the top of the corporate pyramid that many would fall off. Moreover, the pyramid itself has disappeared, its layers of middle managers replaced by technology.

And now, since the economic collapse, there are not enough jobs being created for the population as a whole, much less for those in the twilight of their careers, The New York Times reports.
Of the 14.9 million unemployed, more than 2.2 million are 55 or older. Nearly half of them have been unemployed six months or longer, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate in the group — 7.3 percent — is at a record, more than double what it was at the beginning of the latest recession.

Today, because it will take years to absorb the giant pool of unemployed at the economy’s recent pace, many of these older people may simply age out of the labor force before their luck changes. 
This is happening as these people were planning to work longer.
Home values, often a family’s most important asset, have been battered. Stock portfolios are only now starting to recover. According to a Gallup poll in April, more than a third of people not yet retired plan to work beyond age 65, compared with just 12 percent in 1995. 
In figures released last week by the Census Bureau, the poverty rate among those 55 to 64 increased to 9.4 percent in 2009, from 8.6 percent in 2007. 
One thing to keep in mind, however: this group has a heck of a lot of votes.

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