Monday, March 15, 2010
The New York Times - A YEAR ago, I wrote about a job fair at the Sheraton in Midtown Manhattan, where over 5,000 mainly white collar, middle-aged jobless men and women waited in the cold for more than two hours, hoping to find work. The turnout was a sign of desperate times; until then, the organizer, Tory Johnson, who’s been conducting these fairs in 10 cities for a decade, had never had more than 2,000 people at one of these events.
For that column, I interviewed two dozen boomers. Given recent reports from the federal government and Manpower, the employment agency, that the hiring outlook is beginning to improve, I thought it would be worthwhile to go back to those highly motivated people. Among them are Jo Fagan, a former vice president at Crown publishing who had applied for over 500 jobs in 22 months, and Greg Kramer, 54, a former buyer for a video company, who had attended three job fairs a month, typically arriving three hours before doors opened.
I wanted to know how they’re doing a year later.
The short answer is, of the 16 I interviewed again, 9 describe themselves as still struggling. Eight continue to be unemployed or are working part-time jobs that pay near minimum wage. Several were so concerned about bias, they did not want to give their ages.
Unemployment is slightly lower than the national average for workers older than 45 (8.1 percent). But once those people lose a job, it takes them longer to be rehired. In February, jobless workers over 45 were unemployed an average of 34 weeks versus 27 for younger workers.
And while there are no numbers yet for this recession, in past recessions, the older the workers, the bigger the wage loss when they were rehired, according to Steven Hipple, a Bureau of Labor Statistics economist. After the 1991-93 recession, rehired workers age 55 to 64 on average suffered a 27 percent wage loss, versus a 7 percent loss for workers age 25 to 34. After the 2001-3 recession, workers age 45 to 54 had a 23 percent wage loss when rehired, versus 6 percent for younger workers.
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