The unemployment rate among people 55 and older fell one-tenth of a percent to 5.8 percent in October, according to an AARP Policy Institute analysis of the Labor Department employment figures released today. The average length of unemployment rose by two weeks, to 57.7 weeks. But the number of older long-term unemployed -- those out of work for more than six months -- inched down to 53.1 percent in October from 54 percent the previous month.
Among those post 50s who have found work is Anthony Lolavad, a Huffington Post blogger who has been sharing his experience from the front lines using a pseudonym. While his hours have recovered, his wages have not. He tells his story in his own words below.
This is being written at a refugee center for the powerless. My parent’s house has not had electricity for about six days now, and I needed to get work done. I love the sound of that phrase: "I needed to get work done."
As the latest numbers came in today, where I’m living the fallout from Sandy is still the big news. Much of it is selfish: “I’m tired of living in the stone age!” “I’m tired, cold, and hungry, a huddled mass yearning to breathe free.” Where I am, down wires, flooded substations and trees leaning on, across and through buildings are the worst of it. Two of our neighbors had timber fall on their yards, with mercifully little damage. No houses on the highway this far north, just the usual post-storm havoc, only about ten-fold.
So, after helping to clean up to the best of my ability -- I need to say it again -- I had to get some work done. Not that my main place of business was open -– I’m teaching and tutoring at the local community college and they have the same power limitations that we do. However, getting back in the college groove means papers to grade, and I had two classes worth of essays saying, "Stop sitting around in the dark and mark me already." Very noisy, those unmarked essays.
I am, for all intents and purposes, working full-time hours -– teaching three courses and tutoring for a bit under 20 hours a week. And that’s swell, but I cannot do this indefinitely. I am making about half of what I was taking home before the axe hit the fan (or something like that) and then only for nine months a year. Summer classes go to the full-time profs, and I am but a lowly adjunct. Adjuncts get paid… poorly. But, hey, I’m working!
It makes me wonder about the unemployment figures though. How many people on the current workforce are like me -– dangerously under-employed, working hard for about half their previous standard of living? Or in my case, a quarter of it, because my now ex-wife (the divorce is final) often earned more than I did. This is America, goddammit! Every generation is supposed to do better (or at least as well) as the next. I know I made some wrong turns, but, like being without power, feeling powerless in this respect is also getting old. Very old.
They're Not Ready To Retire
More than one-third of 60-somethings say they don't plan to stop working, versus 25 percent of 50-somethings. In fact, nearly twice as many workers in their 60s as 50s say they just don't want to retire (32 percent vs. 19 percent). Why? It may be flexibility: The study shows that people in their 60s are more likely to be working part-time and enjoying the flexibility of doing so. They are also more likely to enjoy the people they work with and to say they'd feel bored if they weren't working.
They're Still In Their Stride
More than two-thirds of workers ages 50 to 69 consider themselves ahead of the game when it comes to job skills and report being "intellectually stimulated," "still learning" and "working to [their] full potential" at their jobs.
They Love What They Do
More than two-thirds of respondents report that they were "intellectually stimulated" by their jobs, and more than half said they like what they do (interestingly, this percentage was higher among women than men).
They Like The People They Work With
Nearly half of survey respondents reported that they like the people they work with.
They're Mentors To Their Younger Colleagues
Sixty-eight percent reported that they provided advice to their younger colleagues on how to "handle professional issues," "how to navigate around the organization" and "how [they] can do their jobs better."
They're Worried About Money
Half of workers characterize themselves as doing "ok" financially, and an additional 10 percent believe they're doing "well." But 31 percent feel they're "just getting by," and another eight percent say they're "falling behind." A majority express confidence that they'll have enough income to be comfortable in retirement (62 percent), yet their personal finances may not support that; nearly half have less than $100,000 in investable assets. Shedding debt is a top priority among workers in their 50s vs. those their 60s (51% vs. 42%).
They're Concerned About Caregiving
Two-thirds of older workers worry about the prospect of needing to take care of a spouse or other family member; 37 percent believing they'll be faced with care-giving obligations in the next decade. With respect to personal responsibility for care-giving, many more women than men see this looming in their future (42 percent vs. 33 percent).