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The Employment Situation, June 2010: A Mixed Picture for Older Workers

According to a new PPI Fact Sheet by Sara E. Rix of the AARP Public Policy Institute, the overall employment situation improved in June with the decline in unemployment for the total workforce and the aged 55+ workforce.  Private-sector employment, however, rose by only 83,000.
In June, nearly 2.1 million of the unemployed were at least 55 years old.  Older persons were 14.2 percent of the unemployed in June, just about what they were in May.

In June, 70,000 fewer older persons were classified as unemployed, but only 17,000 older persons were added to the ranks of the employed in June. What did increase substantially was the number of older persons who were out of the labor force. In June, approximately 44.7 million individuals aged 55 or older were neither working nor looking for work, about 456,000 more than the month before and a far greater increase than in May. 

Once unemployed, older workers tend to be out of work longer than their younger counterparts; this pattern prevailed in June as well. The average duration of unemployment for those aged 55 and older in June was 40.6 weeks. This was a decline from 44.2 weeks in May (although much higher than the 20.2 weeks in December 2007).

Most older persons who are out of the labor force say that they do not want a job. However, the number expressing interest in work rose by 114,000 between May and June. After falling in May, the number of older discouraged individuals rose to 289,000, or by almost 14 percent, in June