“Funemployment” Ain’t No Fun


unemployment6Going into my fifth week in my journey through the wonderful world of unemployment as a 55 year old, I am finding out that, even though I have an impressive LinkedIn Profile, employers are reticent in hiring Business Veterans, such as myself.

In the process of banging my head against my computer desk last night, I said to myself,

Self, why don’t you do like others your age and older, just give up?

Then, I read the following article and found out that I am not the only crazy old coot out there, who has not dropped out of the Work Force…yet.

Foxbusiness.com reports that

For the last 20 years, the economic landscape has been changing as more people work later in life. But this trend, whether it is for need or enjoyment, was happening well before the Great Recession – and it continues, though older workers have found reemployment more difficult than their younger counterparts.

“From the 1950’s to the 1980’s, there was a decline in labor participation on the part of older Americans,” says Sara Rix, senior strategic policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute. “But in the early to mid-1990’s, we saw a reversal and participation rates [among this group] started inching up…. Many aren’t aware that this is a trend that has been going on for a while and was not caused by the downturn.”

There are many reasons to want to stay in the jobs market, and according to a 2014 AARP report, financial need is at the top of the list – driven by personal or familial health care costs, the need to financially assist aging parents or children and the desire for future financial security. But, the report points out, psychological reasons are top of mind, too.

“With the economy weighing so heavily on people’s minds, it is easy to downplay the personal satisfaction that workers derive from their work,” said the report. “Many older workers see their job as an integral part of their identity.”

In March, the average duration of unemployment for older job seekers (55 and older) was 47.7% weeks, which is higher than February, when it was just 45.6 weeks, the Department of Labor reports. Job seekers under the age of 55 were unemployed for an average of 34.1 weeks in March, down slightly from 34.7 weeks in February.

“People see wisdom in working longer and on top of all of the real financial benefits you receive for every extra year you work…. They also say: What else am I going to do for the next 30 years?”
– Sara Rix, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor at AARP

Joan Cirillo, the CEO and president of Operation A.B.L.E., a Boston-based organization focused on helping older displaced workers get back into the labor market, says over the course of her 19 years with the organization, the jobs market for older workers has gotten increasingly tough.

“We are dealing with an economy that is not robust. Employers are not hiring like they used to, so it’s important to do your homework,” she says. “Look at what industries are more open to hiring because many people 45 and older do run into issues where they are a great candidate, but are ‘overqualified,’ and the implication there is that age is a factor.”

In the last year, Cirillo says Operation A.B.L.E. has seen the number of people seeking help almost double, going from 535 people in 2012 to 1,000 in 2013.

It makes sense that people, many of whom are Baby Boomers, are looking for added resources.

In March, almost 45% of older job seekers were long-term unemployed, which means that they have been out of work and looking for a job for 27 weeks or more. That March number is up from February’s 43.5% but is below the 51% for the previous March.

“The system in this country is chaotic and there isn’t good education for job seekers,” says Maria Heidkamp, senior project manager at The Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. “We’ve just done research looking at whether older job seekers need more education and training to help them get reemployed. It may seem like an obvious finding, but in some cases, it’s probably a good investment, but certainly not in all. We found there is very little data on employment outcomes or return on investment for older job seekers who do pursue training.”

A while back, some idiot coined the term, “fun-employment” as a way to desensitize Americans to how awful and harmful to self and family, being unemployed actually is.

It is true that if you are unemployed when you are, say, in your 20s, there is a support system readily available for you, i.e., your parental units’ pocketbook, and, of course, “Government Benefits”, When you get my age, your parents have passed on, and you have responsibilities to family and debtors.

Unfortunately, the bills still have to be paid, and while receiving Unemployment Checks weekly certainly helps, they usually amount to only a fraction of what you were making, while employed.

Being a responsible adult stinks on ice, sometimes.

My solution?

God helps those who help themselves.

Never give up. Never surrender.



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