The U.S. economy added 163,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department announced today, more than analysts expected, as the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percent, to 8.3 percent. For workers age 55 or older, the unemployment rate remained at 6.2 percent, and there was a bit of good news in terms of average length of unemployment: It fell to 51.4 weeks in July from 55.6 weeks in June.
Still, it's a tough haul for many post 50s. One of them is Anthony LoLavad, an author and teacher who agreed to share his story with The Huffington Post using a pseudonym. He is under-unemployed, recently divorce, and living in his parents' home. You can read his previous posts here and here. The following is Anthony's latest dispatch from the front lines:
I just read the "Fact of the Day #5: The Heartbreak of Long Term Unemployment," and beyond tying my gut up into knots that we never learned in the scouts, it put me in mind of two Peanuts Comic Strips. One has Schroder reciting the end-of-season numbers for their hapless baseball team, to which Charlie Brown says, "Tell your statistics to shut up." The other, just the punch line resonated, and I couldn't find it despite an exhaustive 10-minute web search. The quote was "Thank you, voice of doom."
I'm about to get laid off from my part-time job for a few weeks. I knew it was coming, and actually had a little money put aside. Then I got the first expense from the new business I’m putting together -– two of my external hard drives, with scads of the data I’m going to need, died. Then so did my car. Between them, it cost well over two grand to get up and running again (actually, I’m still waiting on the disc drives).
Now, time was, that would have been annoying, but not devastating. These days, though, that’s close to two month’s salary. That's beyond what went to the lawyer –- and now that the divorce has ground to its conclusion, I have a new monthly expense –- Child Support. This in addition to the insurance I have to have on both my life (part of the divorce decree), my car and my health. There are also the student loan, phone, gas, some groceries. Even in good times, this torture never stops. It’s just that in bad times, it adds metal tips to the end of the cat-o-nine-tails (and yes, I know some people pay extra for that).
The later part of September and the beginning of October are going to be rude, but there is a pin-prick of light after that. I’ve picked up three courses to adjunct. The tutoring center will re-open after a two-week break between the summer session (which has been unusually busy) and the fall term. I'm in the early stages of launching one of my new ventures, have a few more in various stages of limbo, and ideas for some more. Then it's just a matter of making time in the day.
If I go down, I go down fighting.
#10: The Aerospace Corporation
<a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/the-aerospace-corporation-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">AARP</a> was impressed by <a href="http://www.aerospace.org/" target="_hplink">The Aerospace Corporation</a>'s phased retirement program, which allows retirees to continue working a limited number of hours a year while continuing to receive pension benefits. Also impressive: More than half of Aerospace Corporation employees were over 50 in 2011.
#9: Bon Secours Richmond Health System
Bon Secours Richmond Health System not only <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/bon-secours-richmond-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">targets mature workers and retirees for employment</a>, but provides employees with access to wellness coaches and even rewards participation in wellness education programs with bonuses and paid time off as a part of its <a href="http://www.bonsecours.com/jobs-and-education-hr-archive-benefits-well-for-life.html" target="_hplink">"Well for Life" incentive program</a>. <em>(Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.facebook.com/BonSecoursVA?ref=ts" target="_hplink">Bon Secours Richmond Health</a>)</em>
#8: Mercy Health System
AARP liked this Wisconsin health system's <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/mercy-health-system-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">financial planning seminars</a> for its employees, as well as the health and social services it provides workers. <em>(Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.facebook.com/mercyhealthsystem?ref=ts" target="_hplink">Mercy Health System</a>)</em>
#7: The Atlantic Health System
This <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/atlantic-health-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">"Best Employer"</a> has a 1,000 Hour Club for its post 50 employees, which <a href="http://morristown.patch.com/articles/atlantic-health-earns-aarp-accolades" target="_hplink">"allows retirees the opportunity to return to part-time and per-diem work in as early as three months after they have begun receiving retirement benefits."</a>
#6: The YMCA of Greater Rochester
The <a href="http://www.rochesterymca.org/" target="_hplink">YMCA of Greater Rochester</a> offers health benefits to workers putting in over 20 hours a week, which continue into retirement. The <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/ymca-greater-rochester-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">AARP</a> was also impressed by the YMCA's relationship with its retired employees, whom they contact for occasional work and social events.
#5: West Virginia University
Nearly half of West Virginia University's staff falls into the "mature worker" age demographic, with <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/west-virginia-university-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">an average retention of nearly 20 years for tenured employees</a>. WVU also has an employee wellness program, including <a href="http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/fsap" target="_hplink">free professional counseling for faculty and staff.</a>
#4: First Horizon National Corporation
First Horizon National Corporation has a partnership with Senior Services in Memphis as a part of its employee recruitment. It also offers its part-time employees access to development programs. AARP also liked the firm's responsiveness;<a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/first-horizon-national-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">the company makes changes based on feedback from its Employee Value and Loyalty surveys</a>.
#3: National Institutes of Health
<a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/national-institutes-health-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">NIH </a>employees have access to free exercise classes, flexible work options such as telecommuting, and lots of opportunities to keep training and learning.
#2: Cornell University
Cornell University takes care of its retirees through its <a href="https://www.hr.cornell.edu/retirees/encore.html" target="_hplink">"Encore Cornell" program</a>, which helps former Cornell employees connect with employment and volunteering opportunities. It also has <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/cornell-university-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">a few ways for employees to enroll in classes for free</a> and even potentially work toward a degree.
#1: Scripps Health
Scripps Health <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/scripps-health-aarp-best-employers.html" target="_hplink">received high marks</a> for its Scripps Alumni Network Program, offering opportunities to participate in wellness and continuing education programs for full- and part-time employees. AARP also liked the "Return to Work Program" for employees returning from illness, and the strong retirement planning program for employees.