Last Decade Spelled Disaster For Older Workers

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–March 4, 2010.  Older workers endured a staggering 331% increase in unemployment over the last 10 years, a new analysis conducted by the AARP Public Policy Institute shows. This dramatic rise in older unemployed workers has resulted in declining financial and retirement security for millions of Americans who have little time to make up the losses.

“The last decade has spelled disaster for millions of older workers who have lost their jobs, seen their retirement savings diminish, and had their health care costs continue to skyrocket,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President. “The recession has only made this bad situation worse, as the statistics show clearly that older workers who lose their jobs stay unemployed longer than other groups.”

The new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by AARP’s Public Policy Institute shows a dramatic 331.4% increase in the number of unemployed Americans age 55+ and over from January 2000 through December 2009. For age 65+ workers, the increase in the number of unemployed was lower, but still a massive 235%.

During this 10-year period, the number of people unemployed individuals age 55+ increased from 490,000 to 2,114,000. The number of unemployed individuals age 65+ jumped from 143,000 to 479,000.

“Many older Americans are trying to reenter the workforce or stay employed longer for a variety of reasons—for millions of older workers, there is no other choice,” said LeaMond.

On another important measure, duration of unemployment—the length of time an unemployed worker has been looking for a job—older workers also faced an incredibly difficult time.

Average duration of unemployment for workers age 55+ increased from 18.7 weeks in January, 2000 to 34.7 weeks in December, 2009—a jump of 85.6%. Over the same time period, workers age 65+ saw their situation go from bad (24.8 weeks of unemployment) to worse (32.9 weeks), an increase of 32.7%.

AARP maintains a variety of programs to assist individuals age 50+ who are seeking employment. The Association hosts career fairs and webinars; sponsors a National Employer Team to connect job seekers with employers; offers online job counseling; and encourages employers to hire workers age 50+. In addition, the AARP Foundation provides a variety of services to help older workers through its WorkSearch website. For more information on the various programs, please go to