After rising in July, private sector payroll employment fell by 54,000 in August. The overall unemployment rate crept up to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent.
At 7.3 percent, the unemployment rate was also higher for persons aged 55 and older. The rate rose from 7.7 percent to 8.4 percent for older men but remained unchanged at 6.9 percent for women. More than 2.2 million persons in this age group were unemployed in August, 149,000 more than in July.
The average duration of unemployment for those aged 55 and older in August was 39.2 weeks, down somewhat from the July figure of 40.6 weeks. As of August, about half (49.5 percent) of these jobseekers had been out of work for 27 or more weeks.
Most older persons (97 percent) who are out of the labor force say that they do not want a job, a figure that has remained stable since the start of the recession. The number expressing interest in work, which had risen by 54,000 in July, fell by almost the same amount in August. The number of older discouraged individuals showed little change in August, dropping to 261,000 from 269,000.