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Monday, September 20, 2010

While the Republicans want everyone to work until age 70....
Posted by Jill | 5:07 AM
...where are those older workers supposed to work?
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.

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.

After other recent downturns, older people who lost jobs fretted about how long it would take to return to the work force and worried that they might never recover their former incomes. But 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.

For Ms. Reid, it has been four years of hunting — without a single job offer. She buzzes energetically as she describes the countless applications she has lobbed through the Internet, as well as the online courses she is taking to burnish her software skills.

Still, when she is pressed, her can-do spirit falters.

“There are these fears in the background, and they are suppressed,” said Ms. Reid, who is now selling some of her jewelry and clothes online and is late on some credit card payments. “I have had nightmares about becoming a bag lady,” she said. “It could happen to anyone. So many people are so close to it, and they don’t even realize it.”

Being unemployed at any age can be crushing. But older workers suspect their résumés often get shoved aside in favor of those from younger workers. Others discover that their job-seeking skills — as well as some technical skills sought by employers — are rusty after years of working for the same company.

Many had in fact anticipated working past conventional retirement ages to gird themselves financially for longer life spans, expensive health care and reduced pension guarantees.

The most recent recession has increased the need to extend working life. 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.

Older workers who lose their jobs could pose a policy problem if they lose their ability to be self-sufficient. “That’s what we should be worrying about,” said Carl E. Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, “what it means to this class of the new unemployables, people who have been cast adrift at a very vulnerable part of their career and their life.”

"Policy problem." Picture a nation in permanent recession. Picture one in which an ever-increasing number of jobs are sent overseas, where a diminished workforce making less than ever before because of the race to the bottom with people in countries where wages are twenty-five dollars a week. Picture a nation consisting of young working-age Americans raised in McMansions with granite countertops and crown moldings and bridal staircases who never had to so much as share a bathroom, whose parents bought them shiny new cars just for getting a good report card. Now picture alongside them a huge cohort of older Americans, permanently shoved out of the workforce, when Republicans have succeeded in either dismantling Social Security, cutting benefits to the bone, or raising the age at which benefits start to 70. Now imagine the kind of policy prescriptions that are going to be floated in order to deal with it. We can only hope that we'll be able to through all that footage of teabaggers talking about "death panels" back in their faces.

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Blogger casey said...
Hello Jill,

You can get some satisfaction from the phrase "I told you so". What we need is a complete 'change' of our economy. We need to have people first not billionaires first. They seem to have enough for multiple lifetimes but the rest of us could use ... (fill in the blanks). My answer is we need Liberté, égalité, fraternité.