Monday, October 18, 2010

The Trauma of Long-Term Unemployment

Many Americans are living a most difficult journey. To quote Andy Kroll:
So who are these unfortunate or unlucky people? Long-term unemployment, research shows, doesn't discriminate: no age, race, ethnicity, or educational level is immune. According to federal data, however, the hardest hit when it comes to long-term unemployment are older workers -- middle aged and beyond, folks like Rick Rembold who can see retirement on the horizon but planned on another decade or more of work. Given the increasing claims of age discrimination in this recession, older Americans suffering longer bouts of joblessness may not in itself be so surprising. That education seemingly works against anyone in this older cohort is. Nearly half of the long-term unemployed who are 45 or older have "some college," a bachelor's degree, or more. By contrast, those with no education at all make up just 15% of this older category. In other words, if you're older and well educated, the outlook is truly grim.


Julygirl said...

I have noticed that many unemployed these days are college educated. I think they pass up certain jobs in specific categories from their expertise because they keep hoping something else will turn up and it doesn't.

Colleen Hammond said...

Wow, that was us! My husband--an over 45 executive with oodles of education and experience--was out of work for 19 months and is just recently back to work. God had a plan, and we can see some of it now. But he had to "dumb down" his resume at one point because everyone said he was overqualified.

elena maria vidal said...

It really is an incredible trial.

R J said...

It's a similar story in Australia, but unfortunately Australian unemployment statistics are massaged by the federal government on an obviously fraudulent basis (because in Australia, everyone who has more than one hour of paid work per week is considered to be "fully employed"!!!). So the numbers look better in Australia than they do in the States. Nevertheless the situation which Andy Kroll describes is all too familiar in Australia, not least to me. I have experienced nothing more soul-destroying than long-term unemployment.

The North Coast said...

My hours and pay on my financial services managerial job have been steeply reduced, and I have interviewed with a number of banks, including Fifth Third and Chase. Let me tell you that I have not seen ONE person over the age 35 in any of the branches I've interviewed at.

Age discrimination is very prevalent. One reason is that youngsters just out of school will work for less, another factor is health insurance- an older group of workers is an "averse selection" problem and raises the rates for the group. But over all is the common perception that people past, oh, 40 or so are slow on the uptake, rigid, and "losing it" mentally.

This is not what I expected as a youngster in another era, when age brought prestige and increased earnings potential.

As a result of the difficulties confronting middle-aged job seekers, I have become very flexible and agile, and am exploiting every opportunity that offers itself to build a career outside the W9 mainstream. This is not easy, is rather scary in fact, but it might be all we have.

R J said...

Not sure what "W9" means, but otherwise I agree with everything "Tne North Coast" has written.

And I don't think I've seen any staff member over the age of 35 working at banks, insurance agencies, or any such organizations around here either. Besides, I hate to suggest it, but very often, those who are indeed routinely dealing with the public at such institutions are not only well under 35, but have (how can I put this politely?) a ... very ... limited ... grasp ... of ... spoken ... English.

To expect even the most modest level of Anglophone intelligibility from such persons is to incur the dreaded accusation of "racism". And there are also lots of horror stories about Generation Y kids straight out of school who treat their employers like dirt - one of them was reported by the local newspapers as having sent a text message to her employer one fine morning, saying "I quit" - but who still get employed anyway, in preference to over-35s. (Labor unions, which once acted as a bit of a deterrent to throwing over-35s onto the scrapheap, are now even feebler in Australia than in non-Detroit America.)

I am 48 now, and employed on a piece-work basis when employed at all. While I do not wish to sound self-pitying, I have to say that if anyone had even hinted to me at the age of 21 what would actually be ahead of me in terms of employment, I would have fled to a monastery, I think.