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The Employment Situation, December 2009: Overall Unemployment Rate Holds Steady But Ticks Up Slightly for Older Workers

December 2009 was not an especially good month for the aged 55-plus worker, according to this AARP Public Policy fact sheet.  Although the overall unemployment rate remained steady at 10 percent, the same was not the case for older workers.

The unemployment rate for persons aged 55 and over rose to 7.2 percent in December from 7.1 percent in November.  Until this year, the unemployment rate for the 55-plus age group had not exceeded 6 percent since September 1949. It has been well above 6 percent for much of 2009.

Unemployed older workers spent somewhat less time looking for work in December than they did in November: Average duration of unemployment for job seekers aged 55 and older fell to 34.7 weeks from 36 weeks in November.  Nonetheless, almost half of older unemployed persons were among the long-term unemployed, that is, they had been out of work for 27 or more weeks.

The number of older persons who could be classified as job-seeking discouraged rose in December although not as sharply as it had in November.