Some New Hope for Older Workers

job interview There's more bad news for the more mature baby boomers. Once they've lost their jobs, older Americans are more likely than any other age group to remain out of work for 99 weeks or more. That's as calculated in a new report by the Congressional Research Service.

For unemployed adults ages 55 and over, 11.5 percent had spent almost the last two years looking for work, considerably higher than the figure of 6 percent among unemployed workers under age 35. Older adult unemployment is at a near-record high, double what it was when the recession began in December 2007. Among adults over 65, 6.9 percent were jobless in December 2010.

"It is urgent that we address the employment needs of millions of frustrated and often desperate older adults and boomers," saidSandra Y. Nathan, senior vice president of Economic Security at the National Council on Aging (NCOA),the leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization for older Americans. "Many have seen their savings and housing values badly eroded in the economic downturn and are living in or dangerously near poverty. For them, a job is a lifeline that can help them make ends meet and get them on a pathway to economic security."

But the more mature unemployed are not without lifelines. NCOA has some work-force development programs that aim to give hope and concrete assistance to mature workers who are seeking to return to, or remain in, the work force. Partnering with the federal government, NCOA sponsoring:

  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which trains low-income workers aged 55-plus and places them in community service jobs. NCOA currently operates 27 SCSEP programs in 11 states, with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • The Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) program, which provides an opportunity for retired and unemployed Americans 55 and olde to share their occupational expertise working for the Environmental Protection Agency, in jobs ranging from clerical and technical to professional assignments as writers, engineers, scientists, and accountants.

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