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The unemployment rate for workers 55 and older rose to 3.3 percent in March, from 2.6 percent the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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More than 683,000 older adults stopped working during the period covered by the March report, either because they were unemployed or left the workforce for other reasons. Because the employment surveys are conducted mid-month, that period does not include the last two weeks of the month, when nearly 10 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits due to the nationwide shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The overall unemployment rate for the country rose to 4.4 percent.
"We cannot precisely quantify the effects of the pandemic on the job market in March,” the BLS report states. “However, it is clear that the decrease in employment and hours and the increase in unemployment can be ascribed to effects of the illness and efforts to contain the virus."
The new data suggest that older workers may face difficulties in the months ahead. Many of them hold jobs that have been temporarily stopped to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Nearly 5 million workers 55 and older are in retail positions, and another million prepare and serve food.