ALL NEWS

Older workers face higher unemployment amid virus pandemic

Oct 20, 2020, 1:49 PM
older unemployment...
Job seekers exercise social distancing as they wait to be called into the Heartland Workforce Solutions office in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Nebraska reinstated job search requirements this week for most people claiming jobless benefits. Those unemployment insurance requirements were suspended in mid-March to help employees who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

NEW YORK CITY– For the first time in nearly 50 years, older workers face higher unemployment than midcareer workers, according to a study released Tuesday by the New School University in New York City.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on employment for people of all ages. But researchers found that during its course, workers 55 and older lost jobs sooner, were rehired slower and continue to face higher job losses than their counterparts ages 35 to 54.

It is the first time since 1973 that such a severe unemployment gap has persisted for six months or longer.

In every recession since the 1970s, older workers had persistently lower unemployment rates than midcareer workers — partly because of the benefits of seniority.

But in the current recession, older workers experienced higher unemployment rates than midcareer workers in each month since the onset of the pandemic.

The older workers’ unemployment rates from April through September were 1.1 percentage points higher than mid-career workers — at 9.7% versus 8.6%. The rates were compiled using a six-month rolling average and were far worse for older workers who are black, female or lack college degrees.

The study focused only on workers with established careers. As a result, it did not examine workers younger than 35.

It found that the pandemic has posed a unique risk for older workers, said Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis.

“The higher rate of unemployment for older workers might be because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for employers to shed older workers and not fear investigation by the labor department,” she said.

“Age discrimination rules are not being tightly enforced. Employers, fearing economic instability, may want to get rid of relatively more expensive workers and take their chances with training new workers when the economy recovers.”

Older workers often face age discrimination, making it difficult for them to find jobs. Researchers believe employers laid off and resisted rehiring older adults, in part because they tend to face more serious health risks when infected by the virus.

The unemployment spike for older workers could force more of them into early and involuntary retirement, worsen their financial well-being and exacerbate financial disparities already experienced by women, minorities and people without college degrees in terms of retirement security.

Legasse Gamo, 65, was laid off in March from his job as a baggage handler at Reagan National airport in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia. While Gamo is afraid of exposing himself to the coronavirus by working around others, he said he has looked for work — because he feels he has little choice but to take any job he can find.

The contractor he worked for, Eulen America, has required its laid-off employees to reapply for their jobs. Gamo has but has received no reply.

The immigrant from Ethiopia, Gamo supports three grandchildren, ages 6, 12 and 14, who live with him. His daughter is still employed, but her pay is not enough to cover their expenses. Gamo gets $210 a week in unemployment insurance payments and said he has spent almost all of his savings.

“I just want to get back to my job as soon as possible to support my family because I’m afraid we will end up homeless,” Gamo said.

New School researchers estimated that 1.4 million workers over 55 remain lost their jobs since April and remain unemployed.

The figure does not include workers who became unemployed in April and left the work force.

The situation could have deep ramifications for older workers close to retirement because their final years on the job are critical for those who have not saved enough for their retirement and expect to work longer to shore up their retirement funds.

The researchers recommended that Congress increase and extend unemployment benefits for older workers, discourage withdrawals from retirement accounts, lower Medicare eligibility to 50 and create a federal Older Workers Bureau to promote the welfare of older workers.
____
AP Business Writer Alexandra Olson contributed to this report from New York

Today’s Top Stories

All News

FILE: The sun sets as a rainstorm blows over Delicate Arch in Arches National Park near Moab on Sat...
Devin Oldroyd

Body found in Arches National Park Saturday

rand County Sheriff's Office reports the body of a female was found in Arches National Park Saturday, Oct. 1.
1 day ago
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said that he will vote against any potential congressional d...
Devan Cole, CNN

Rubio vows to oppose potential Hurricane Ian aid package if lawmakers ‘load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm’

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he will vote against any potential congressional disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Ian if lawmakers "load it up with stuff that's unrelated to the storm."
1 day ago
Photo credit: Lisa Wall Jones...
Devin Oldroyd

Fatal car crash closes southbound I-15 in Washington County

Southbound I-15 closed at mile marker 34, following a fatal car crash Sunday. Closure time is estimated to be two to three hours.
1 day ago
The National Weather Service issues a severe thunderstorm warning in parts of Grand County. Photo c...
Devin Oldroyd

NWS issues severe thunderstorm warning in Grand County

The National Weather Service sent out a severe thunderstorm warning in parts of Grand County. Half-dollar-sized hail is being reported.
1 day ago
Temple Square...
Devin Oldroyd

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces the construction of 18 new temples

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the construction of 18 new temples.
1 day ago
The new monuments at This is the place heritage park....
Devin Oldroyd

Progress in 175 years: Discovering new stories of Utah’s pioneers

Mary Richards with the Church News returns to KSL NewsRadio to celebrate lesser-known stories of Utah Pioneers
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Older workers face higher unemployment amid virus pandemic