Is the Senior Employment Situation Improving?

The Federal government (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) reported that the unemployment rate ‘was essentially unchanged’ although employment increased by 175,000 jobs in May.

unemployment downThe senior population (age 55+) unemployment statistics have been improving this year on the face of things- steadily reducing each month from 6.0% in January to 5.3% in May. Female seniors are driving this improvement; their unemployment has steadily decreased from 5.9% in January to 4.3% in May. While the male senior population also decreased in the first quarter from 6.2% in January to 5.7% in March, the improvement sputtered in April and then up-ticked to 5.8% in May.

These numbers still account that there are 1.76 million seniors who want to work and cannot find employment; this does not count under-employed seniors (those who accept part-time employment although they desire full-time work). Compared to the prior month’s unemployment figure of 1.825 million, it is a 5.2% improvement, and almost 16% improvement over the prior-year month’s 2.09 million unemployed seniors.

Although there is hope in these numbers, the same report notes that of all the unemployed, 54% remain unemployed for over 15 weeks and over a third (37%) remain unemployed for over a half-year.

So overall is this good news, or disappointing? I believe that we can all agree that the job hemorrhaging that started in 2008 has subsided, but how much steam does this recovery engine really have? Is the glass half empty or half full?

In a related topic, Philip Moeller (Is an Extended Senior Career in Your Future?) discusses the effects of baby boom demographics on the extended duration of careers. He argues that businesses find it in their best interests to hire seniors for responsible positions and presents several ways that businesses can make concessions to seniors to make a longer career palatable to the demands of their older life situations. Maybe that glass is half full after all!