Although joblessness amongst the young has grabbed much attention, just as significant are the...


Although joblessness amongst the young has grabbed much attention, just as significant are the 3.5M+ middle-aged unemployed, 39% of whom have been without work for at least a year. The rate is unprecedented in modern U.S. history. "Even when you do return to work, it's a much worse job than before you were laid off," says Economist Sewin Chan. (See also)

Comments (32)
  • 7footMoose
    , contributor
    Comments (2229) | Send Message
     
    This is a tragedy for our Nation. It is one that will continue to haunt the US for decades. It will continue to have economic cost beyond the affected generation.
    24 Jun 2012, 05:36 AM Reply Like
  • bbro
    , contributor
    Comments (11223) | Send Message
     
    To understand you need to see a chart of Postponable Purchases to GDP....From the 4th qtr of 1993 to 4th qtr 2007 this ratio had stayed
    above 20% even though over the last 60 years periodic times required
    a move below 20 often into the 18% range... because we were so high
    for so long the business cycle had to assert itself ( it would have after
    the 2000-2001 tech bust but we ( repubs and dems ) allowed the residential portion to get way out of wack and the natural forces were
    temporarily halted. Thusly we collapsed to 16.19% a 70 year low..we are beginning a slow march back 17.96% today...the slow progress is why payroll growth is anemic..as this ratio continues northward jobs will be created but I suspect the pace will be unsatisfying.
    24 Jun 2012, 05:50 AM Reply Like
  • spald_fr
    , contributor
    Comments (2814) | Send Message
     
    I recall I saw a graph in Saturday's WSJ where the number of unemployeed 45-64 year-olds actually exceeded the younger demographic. There are more older people out of work, numerically, than younger. I would suspect, upon closer analysis, that the group hit hardest are middle aged white males but we won't hear anything about that because it's not politically correct to go there. Or even report the facts.
    24 Jun 2012, 10:34 AM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (860) | Send Message
     
    Thats for sure, spald. Anything that even makes an inference at the fact the world just doesn't roll over for the white male and we don't receive checks in the mail twice a month merely as part of the "white privilege" that pervades every aspect of our lives, is quickly dismissed or is labeled racist.

     

    I am all for diversity, but not to the point of stupidity and where it becomes counter to a proper meritocracy.
    24 Jun 2012, 11:26 PM Reply Like
  • robertsiegel55
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
     
    And when you apply for a Career position the propective 'New'
    employer skirts the law and asks you to fill out a job survey which
    asks what year you were born!
    24 Jun 2012, 12:31 PM Reply Like
  • mattyw
    , contributor
    Comments (125) | Send Message
     
    Perfect example of a failure of the free market, capitalist system.
    24 Jun 2012, 02:06 PM Reply Like
  • Mad_Max_A_Million
    , contributor
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    Perfect example of the failure of a Socialist-dominated government to give free market capitalism as much attention as they give to income redistribution, which is a moral hazard of the Nth degree.
    24 Jun 2012, 03:24 PM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (860) | Send Message
     
    The young people everyone is mewing about will get jobs. Someone who is 52 and now "unemployable" and working low(er) paying part-time jobs the rest of his/her life is the real tragedy in this whole thing. They will eventually become wards of the State.
    24 Jun 2012, 03:12 PM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    If they're on unemployment and working part-time, they're already wards of the State.
    24 Jun 2012, 03:18 PM Reply Like
  • bigbenorr
    , contributor
    Comments (1156) | Send Message
     
    "unemployable"..... honestly I don't believe such a thing exists, maybe just another name for being unwilling to work or learn a new skill. Also by age 52 a person has had many years to develop useful skills, if they haven't done so then let them suffer the consequences of their own inaction, and let it be a lesson to us all.
    24 Jun 2012, 04:32 PM Reply Like
  • Fr33f0rm
    , contributor
    Comments (300) | Send Message
     
    Age discrimination is a real thing, and, in some cases, justifyable.

     

    Older people are, in general, harder to train and less technologically savvy which makes for a less attractive situation.

     

    Many managers prefer younger employees because they're more apt to learn the manager's system rather than using their own that might clash with the company's processes.
    24 Jun 2012, 05:45 PM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    I believe that you have hit upon a great truth.

     

    It's not age discrimination, but 'lack of skills discrimination,' and 'unwillingness to learn discrimination,' that's holding people out of the job market.

     

    My current employer is a good example. It has a young workforce (I joked that one of my parkas is older than most of my coworkers) and values tech savvy employees. As part of the hiring process, HR makes all employees take a computer test--not only to test for typing speed, but to gauge whether applicants are familiar with current software and hardware.

     

    People who don't make the grade are passed over.

     

    The company places a great emphasis on having state-of-the art systems. In fact, it's one of the reasons for the company's success. (The company is a privately owned appraisal management company based in Northern California.)

     

    I would venture that those older workers who are unwilling, or unable, to update their skills are doomed to be left behind.

     

    As I mentioned earlier, the job hunting group I was a part of had a preponderance of older workers in it.

     

    I don't know the individual stories of the members, but it seemed to me that quite a few struggled with technology.

     

    It's incumbent on all of us to remain current with our skill set. Even if we aren't on facebook or twitter.

     

    Otherwise, we'll be left behind.
    24 Jun 2012, 07:05 PM Reply Like
  • 7footMoose
    , contributor
    Comments (2229) | Send Message
     
    Lame excuse for discrimination.
    24 Jun 2012, 07:37 PM Reply Like
  • 7footMoose
    , contributor
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    Ditto, see above comment.
    24 Jun 2012, 07:37 PM Reply Like
  • Poor Texan
    , contributor
    Comments (3527) | Send Message
     
    Lost a job at 55. Went onto contract work. After two years took a 33% wage cut to get on the company's payroll. Benefits were worth it. Had a sick wife to take care of and that was my first responsibility, not job satisfaction.
    24 Jun 2012, 11:12 PM Reply Like
  • 7iron10
    , contributor
    Comments (222) | Send Message
     
    ...What?

     

    I had to check your bio because you looked kind of young, still do...

     

    I honestly don't know where to start with your comment; it's so closed-minded I have trouble wrapping my hands around it. How can you honestly equate someone who is in their 40'-50's, unemployed and being 'unwilling to work or learn a new skill'? They've been worked their entire life, more than likely in one job or industry, honing skills to perfection. And then they're tossed out on their behind and told, "Change or get out of the way."

     

    I'm sorry these people weren't raised on LOL-speech and spend an inordinate amount of time on their phones/ipods/ipads, etc. Gaining a new skill set isn't like spending a semester at some community college and then hitting the employment lines....you're talking about literally a 1/4, 1/5 of someones life being indoctrinated in these so-called 'skills'.

     

    Moreover, these people more than likely lost a large portion of whatever life savings they had, have a family and watched their property values tank. Where would you like them to find this magical, apparently plentiful, amount of time and money to change careers? It's easier said than done.

     

    I can only hope this type of event never happens to you - the hardship you would have to endure on top of shock of learning it CAN happen to you might be too much.

     

    And I'm 24.
    24 Jun 2012, 11:23 PM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    I'm 59 going on 60, and appreciate how you think I look young.

     

    But I've blown through all my retirement savings, lost a house to foreclosure, went through a divorce and custody battle, had to work part-time for 13 months after my primary employer failed, and still managed to keep my skills current and a good attitude while I looked for work.

     

    My new job doesn't pay what my old one did, but the opportunities now far surpass what was considered 'best case' only a couple of years ago.

     

    I appreciate your concern, but don't feel sorry for me.

     

    My point was that those who can't change won't be able to find work.

     

    Period.

     

    Those who can adapt will find their futures brighter than they could have imagined.
    24 Jun 2012, 11:32 PM Reply Like
  • WisPokerGuy
    , contributor
    Comments (1363) | Send Message
     
    Wow! I'm willing to bet that [bigbenorr] is white... Is a male... under 40... fully employed and making a very nice income. In any case, he pretty quick to pass judgment on the lives of people he has never met and knows nothing about. "Let them eat cake!", huh Ben? The problem is that the term "unemployable" is probably not completely accurate. It should be "underemployed". That is a VERY real issue in this country for people 50 and over who are looking for work. I know people with Master Degrees working at Best Buy or Starbucks because they can't even get an interview in their field. I hope you never have to walk in those shoes Ben. And if you do, I hope you remember what you wrote above.

     

    Here is another thing that people should consider... when I was in my 20's and just out of school, there were older employees who had been with the company for in some cases 30+ years to teach me the in-and-outs of the technical aspects of my career. It gave me an opportunity to learn things that had been proven to work in days or weeks that might have taken years to figure out from scratch. Many of those lessons I have continued to use during my entire working career. At least with IT (which is what I'm familiar with), who is left to impart those lessons now? I'm a free-lancer now but everyone I work with at my client sites are 25-30 and looking to job hop for better pay. The result is that companies constantly are reinventing the wheel because the knowledge base is just not there anymore. Companies like WellPoint are just constantly in on-the-job training mode for new hires. Over and over again. They pay these younger workers less and get less out of them too because of the re-engenering necessary on projects not done correctly the first time. I'm 52 and I'm lucky. I have a nice niche market for my skills. But basically, there is no freaking way I could even get a permanent job with benefits anymore. Not and make anywhere close to what I currently make. Those positions just don't exist in this job environment.

     

    Bottom line - Not only is the knowledge drain a serious waste of talent... to me it can also be very dangerous for the economy.
    24 Jun 2012, 11:39 PM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    Well-said.

     

    You're one of the people I spoke about in the post above.

     

    One who adapted and is now earning a good living, in a non-traditional way.

     

    Kudos to you!
    24 Jun 2012, 11:41 PM Reply Like
  • 7iron10
    , contributor
    Comments (222) | Send Message
     
    Billddrummer, I was responding to 'bigbenorr', but hey, you're lookin' young too, haha.

     

    I wasn't saying people CAN'T redefine their skill-set, but to classify literally an entire generation into one group, and expect them all to have the same opportunities to change their lives at that stage in their life....ya, I'm not buying.

     

    And WisPokerGuy, good insight.

     

    Times are different - my generation is 'gimmy, gimmy' with no sense of loyalty (granted, one should probably argue the same for corporate America). My parents are in another category and suffer because of it.
    24 Jun 2012, 11:57 PM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    My apologies for responding so vehemently.

     

    Frankly, I didn't read bigbenorr's comment. Although looking back, it's clear why it raised your hackles.

     

    Perhaps "skills" is too broad a word for these times. "Marketable skills" may better describe it.

     

    Or even better, "Skills current employers will pay for."

     

    The ability to hang drywall in Las Vegas isn't considered a skill employers will pay for.

     

    Back in 2005 they did. Now they don't.

     

    Loyalty is overrated, especially nowadays.

     

    Fast Company magazine estimates that current workers will have their same jobs for four years, on average. That will force virtually everyone to be willing to adapt to changing conditions, changing requirements and changing expectations.

     

    I've been at my current company for six months and have had two jobs already. I don't know what the future holds, but chances are good that I'll have many more opportunities to do different things as my skill set (those skills again) expands.

     

    I believe that the major challenge older workers face is being able to adapt to the increased pace of change.

     

    I'm doing my current job differently than I did when I got it 5 months ago.

     

    I'm more efficient, more flexible, and more valuable as a result.

     

    Those people who aren't comfortable with the new pace of change are destined to fall behind.

     

    I don't intend to be one of those people.
    25 Jun 2012, 12:12 AM Reply Like
  • Buddy Canuspare
    , contributor
    Comments (406) | Send Message
     
    And they're also willing to work cheaper, don't forget that.
    25 Jun 2012, 12:14 AM Reply Like
  • Buddy Canuspare
    , contributor
    Comments (406) | Send Message
     
    " honing skills to perfection..."
    Indeed. Those skills were expensively bought, by the worker, the employer and the nation. Discarding them is a form of economic waste. Toyota would never put up with such waste, but of course Toyota's not an American company.
    25 Jun 2012, 12:19 AM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    If you recall, Toyota lost its way as well, during the go-go 2000s.

     

    Toyota operated on the premise of "kaizen," meaning continuing improvement.

     

    That was one of the reasons Toyota became the automotive powerhouse in the US that surpassed GM in market share.

     

    But the company was diverted from that premise when it seemed that anything it did produced a profit.

     

    Then Toyota built a plant that produced only full-sized pickup trucks.

     

    Unlike its other plants, this one was inflexible, and couldn't easily be converted to build other types of vehicles.

     

    But the plant opened during the gasoline fuel spike of 2007, coupled with the recession and financial meltdown of 2008.

     

    Demand for pickups crashed, and Toyota had to idle the plant.

     

    Later, company executive apologized for their single-minded pursuit of profits.

     

    As it turned out, Toyota posted losses for 2 years.

     

    So, it's not that Toyota is perfect. Au contraire, they got just as greedy as everyone else did.
    25 Jun 2012, 12:36 AM Reply Like
  • Buddy Canuspare
    , contributor
    Comments (406) | Send Message
     
    But what have they done for me lately?
    Lexus still on top: http://bit.ly/KWCPCE
    25 Jun 2012, 01:02 AM Reply Like
  • bigbenorr
    , contributor
    Comments (1156) | Send Message
     
    Hey 7, I wouldn't worry too much about me. I'm young too, but I have put in some pretty good work these last few years and now I have employers fighting over me. I guess that makes me less sympathetic to those who survive on my tax dollars.

     

    To your comment, "honing skills to perfection"? or is it better to call it stagnating? It is like Bill D said, those who can't change won't find work. All it takes is some initiative, there are plenty of jobs available if you are willing to get dirty and do some real work.
    25 Jun 2012, 02:14 AM Reply Like
  • bigbenorr
    , contributor
    Comments (1156) | Send Message
     
    @wispokerguy
    "I'm willing to bet that [bigbenorr] is white... Is a male... under 40... fully employed and making a very nice income."

     

    Hmmmm, lets see, yes, yes,yes aaaaand....damn right! And just call me Marie, cause, yeah cake and whatnot. Sorry if I seem callous, I guess I just get tired of hearing nothing but excuses from people as to why their lives are so messed up, when I have had no particular advantages over the average person and yet somehow manage to provide for myself and still produce enough excess cash to pay for other people's unemployment checks.

     

    There are older workers at my company too, and yes I definitely have learned everything I know from them. But these are not the same guys you hear complaining about being "unemployable". Instead they actually have skills that keep them working and earning good money, just like I am. I have nothing against older people, I think there are a lot of really good ones, and good young people too, but I have no pity for an able bodied man who claims he cannot find work, young or old.
    25 Jun 2012, 02:28 AM Reply Like
  • WisPokerGuy
    , contributor
    Comments (1363) | Send Message
     
    My point [bigbenorr] - which apparently went completely over your head - was this:

     

    Obviously, an unemployed worker who wants some job has a decent chance of finding a job. Key point --- some job. Any job. Like McDonald's or packing groceries at the supermarket? However, if a person gets laid off from a job they have been working at for 25 years and is in their early-50's and making say $70,000, what is their chances of finding similar employment in their chosen field with similar pay? 10%? And say this same person (for simplicity sake assume male), has a family with children to support and bills to pay. How easy is it for him to maintain those responsibilities working for minimum wage? You can "downsize" your life, but has that become an acceptable fate to throw at people? If it is, that is REALLY SAD. You do what you have to do, of course. But asking workers to accept a three level downgrade in living style is a pretty harsh thing for anyone to accept. I personally know a half dozen people out there looking for jobs like I described above and they are voters too. People are angry and they are starting to get pretty PO'd at EVERY political party out there. Especially when Congress passes a law like they did earlier this year admitting 300,000 additional temporary workers in the IT field.

     

    It really irritates me when people like [bigbenorr] paint everybody in a particular situation with their incredibly broad brush. All you hear is "they're lazy" or "they refuse to change" - translation "they want MY tax money". That really shows a lack of maturity, a tremendous lack of empathy and a real lack of imagination. Maybe [bigbenorr] is a genious and never will find himself in a bad job situation. However, you never know what pressures people face until you walk in their shoes. Good luck my friend. Someday you might find out life can be tough and unfair too.
    25 Jun 2012, 06:30 PM Reply Like
  • bigbenorr
    , contributor
    Comments (1156) | Send Message
     
    "Someday you might find out life can be tough and unfair too."

     

    ......Way ahead of you there pal. You probably think I was just lucky, but I endured years of being broke and working, studying and sleeping in my car or a roach infested shack because I had to save my money for tuition. I got no handouts, but I worked through it and made a decent career for myself, and you didn't hear me complaining the whole time about how hard it was.
    My current job is no picnic either, my employer expects results and I deliver them, if I didn't I would be out on my ass like your friends. They don't pay me because of "empathy". They pay me because I make money for them, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I would hate my life if the only reason I got a check was out of pity.

     

    I know there are some people out there who got screwed over, and yes maybe they have had to downgrade their lifestyle, but I refuse to believe that it is impossible for those people to find a new job and be successful at it, regardless of whether it is at McDonalds or a grocery store or digging ditches, I could pick any one of those jobs and be successful at it if I applied myself. You may scoff, but I say employers recognize those who are hard working and promote them. With so many slackers out there, it is easy to tell the difference.
    25 Jun 2012, 11:31 PM Reply Like
  • billddrummer
    , contributor
    Comments (1761) | Send Message
     
    Can't argue with that one bit.
    25 Jun 2012, 11:58 PM Reply Like
  • Terry330
    , contributor
    Comments (881) | Send Message
     
    Conservatives in US want cheaper and cheaper labor, no unions, no 20+ years of job experience, etc. GOP leaders want American labor at China wage rates to please big business.
    24 Jun 2012, 08:56 PM Reply Like
  • Value Doc
    , contributor
    Comments (855) | Send Message
     
    Actually, middle age itself is a big problem--now that my 40th birthday is coming up next month, I want to be young again . . .1996 was a good year.
    25 Jun 2012, 02:38 AM Reply Like
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