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Gingersnap
09-20-2010, 01:53 PM
For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again
Stuart Isett for The New York Times

By MOTOKO RICH
Published: September 19, 2010


VASHON ISLAND, Wash. — Patricia Reid is not in her 70s, an age when many Americans continue to work. She is not even in her 60s. She is just 57.
The New Poor

Accidentally Retired

But four years after losing her job she cannot, in her darkest moments, escape a nagging thought: she may never work again.

College educated, with a degree in business administration, she is experienced, having worked for two decades as an internal auditor and analyst at Boeing before losing that job.

But that does not seem to matter, not for her and not for a growing number of people in their 50s and 60s who desperately want or need to work to pay for retirement and who are starting to worry that they may be discarded from the work force — forever.

Since the economic collapse, there are not enough jobs being created for the population as a whole, much less for those in the twilight of their careers.

Of the 14.9 million unemployed, more than 2.2 million are 55 or older. Nearly half of them have been unemployed six months or longer, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate in the group — 7.3 percent — is at a record, more than double what it was at the beginning of the latest recession.

After other recent downturns, older people who lost jobs fretted about how long it would take to return to the work force and worried that they might never recover their former incomes. But today, because it will take years to absorb the giant pool of unemployed at the economy’s recent pace, many of these older people may simply age out of the labor force before their luck changes.

For Ms. Reid, it has been four years of hunting — without a single job offer. She buzzes energetically as she describes the countless applications she has lobbed through the Internet, as well as the online courses she is taking to burnish her software skills.

Still, when she is pressed, her can-do spirit falters.

“There are these fears in the background, and they are suppressed,” said Ms. Reid, who is now selling some of her jewelry and clothes online and is late on some credit card payments. “I have had nightmares about becoming a bag lady,” she said. “It could happen to anyone. So many people are so close to it, and they don’t even realize it.”

Being unemployed at any age can be crushing. But older workers suspect their résumés often get shoved aside in favor of those from younger workers. Others discover that their job-seeking skills — as well as some technical skills sought by employers — are rusty after years of working for the same company.

It could be the insurance rates more than the skill set.

NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/business/economy/20older.html?_r=1&ref=us)

FlaGator
09-20-2010, 03:44 PM
It could be the insurance rates more than the skill set.

NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/business/economy/20older.html?_r=1&ref=us)

It could be that they are expecting rates of pay that younger people aren't.

Gingersnap
09-20-2010, 04:42 PM
It could be that they are expecting rates of pay that younger people aren't.

That could be. Generally, if you haven't been hired at the same or better pay within a few months, you do have to retool your expectations.

It seems to me that an interlude like this could be a good opportunity to get into another field.

SaintLouieWoman
09-20-2010, 04:49 PM
That could be. Generally, if you haven't been hired at the same or better pay within a few months, you do have to retool your expectations.

It seems to me that an interlude like this could be a good opportunity to get into another field.

That's the pat answer to those who are in despair---get into another field. Any suggestions on success in another field where there is no experience at all? Unfortunately companies tend to compartmentalize their thinking. I've talked to other sales reps who would complain about the difficulty in merely changing the type of sales---say from pharmaceutical to manufacturing or office equipment sales. It can be done, but this is minor next to a major change of fields in this economy.

It would be terrifying to lose the job, then subsequently home, possessions for someone who has worked all their life and done the "right" things.

It's also more than discouraging for young people graduating from college with student loans and hopes for a well-paying job.

I hope someone with a higher pay grade determines how to fix it.

FlaGator
09-20-2010, 05:17 PM
I'm thinking about becoming a greeter for Walmart... or maybe a hitman for the mafia. I'm can't make up my mind. I'm not sure if I'd rather see poor saps coming or going...

Gingersnap
09-20-2010, 05:50 PM
That's the pat answer to those who are in despair---get into another field. Any suggestions on success in another field where there is no experience at all? Unfortunately companies tend to compartmentalize their thinking. I've talked to other sales reps who would complain about the difficulty in merely changing the type of sales---say from pharmaceutical to manufacturing or office equipment sales. It can be done, but this is minor next to a major change of fields in this economy.

It would be terrifying to lose the job, then subsequently home, possessions for someone who has worked all their life and done the "right" things.

It's also more than discouraging for young people graduating from college with student loans and hopes for a well-paying job.

I hope someone with a higher pay grade determines how to fix it.

It's not a pat answer, it's realistic. If no one will hire you with your current skill set at your previous wage, what else can you do but reinvent yourself? You can't force a hiring manager to pass over people who might be a better fit as new hires.

Scary as it might be, people do switch careers in mid-life all the time. I know one who went to nursing school, a couple of people who got their teaching credentials, and more who have become niche retailers, website designers, or started home-based businesses in accounting or consulting.

It's not effortless but many people do it - some several times over the course of a working life.

warpig
09-20-2010, 06:13 PM
I have switched careers 4 times in my life, and I have done pretty well in each. My family owned a nursery and landscape co., I worked as a manager for Pizza Hut, a manager at a pawn shop, and now a project manager for a company that does construction materials testing.
If you apply yourself you will succeed.

m00
09-20-2010, 06:18 PM
It's possible employers don't want to hire someone that would just retire in 5 years anyway. But in this person's case, I imagine 20 years of Boeing pension ain't bad.

Also there is being institutionalized. Being an internal auditor and analyst for Boeing probably means your biggest skill is knowing Boeing's internal pipelines and processes. I can probably only think of 10 companies off the top of my head that would even be in the same ballpark on those. And she'd have to relearn them anyway.

Maybe she should start consulting. Dunno, that's easier said than done though without contacts. If she rested on her laurels for 20 years might not have generated the fat Rolodex you'd need.

lacarnut
09-20-2010, 07:31 PM
I am skeptical of these bad bear news stories especially when they come from the NY Slimes. The woman is pictured in a sloppy dress at her computer with her hand on her head looking like she is experiencing a migraine. Not saying she does not have problems but they own a house free and clear that has to be worth at least $300,000. She is in a hell of lot better shape than a couple that have no job income and are having their home foreclosed on.

She may needs to change careers and lower her salary expectations. My Cousin from Michigan has been working in New Orleans for the last 5 years because he could find a job in the Commercial Air Conditioning field. He is doing great there. Sometimes you just have to pack up and move. Both of them are approaching 60 also.

m00
09-20-2010, 10:07 PM
I had to lol at this:


Stunned and depressed, she sent out résumés, but figured she had a little time to recover. So she took vacations to Turkey and Thailand with her husband, who is a home repairman. She sought chiropractic treatments for a neck injury and helped nurse a priest dying of cancer.

Most of her days now are spent in front of a laptop, holed up in a lighthouse garret atop the house that her husband, Denny Mielock, built in the 1990s on a breathtaking piece of property overlooking the sound.

...


Ms. Reid is in some ways luckier than others. Boeing paid her a six-month severance, and she has health care benefits that cover her and her husband for $40 a month.

And she admits some regrets: she had a $180,000 balance in her 401(k) account, and paid $80,000 in penalties and taxes when she cashed it out early. She did not rein in her expenses right away. And now, her $500-a-week unemployment benefits have been exhausted.



How tragic..

SarasotaRepub
09-20-2010, 10:42 PM
I'm thinking about becoming a greeter for Walmart... or maybe a hitman for the mafia. I'm can't make up my mind. I'm not sure if I'd rather see poor saps coming or going...


AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I can't let that one go without a comment. :D


Ginger, "retooling" anything after you're over 50 in this high tech economy deserves a tad more feeling than you give.

I'm not saying it can't be done but you're remark is a tad flippant.

Gingersnap
09-20-2010, 11:00 PM
AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I can't let that one go without a comment. :D


Ginger, "retooling" anything after you're over 50 in this high tech economy deserves a tad more feeling than you give.

I'm not saying it can't be done but you're remark is a tad flippant.

It's not about feeling. One of my BIL's is a programmer or was. He has not kept up and so he's out of work but doesn't want to retool his resume to work on "legacy" systems. He'd be great at that but it's a change in status.

Another BIL lost his supervisory job after 20+ years due to competition with illegal labor in construction. He now niche markets items for the precision hobby crowd in model cars. It was a big change but he's doing fine.

My SIL lost her charter school job and moved across the country to the state with the worst employment right now (Nevada) and she reinvented herself as an educational consultant. She's doing well even though she hates it.

I wasn't "flip" in my remarks (mild as they were compared to others in this thread). My remarks were observational and based in experience.

m00
09-20-2010, 11:09 PM
Ginger, "retooling" anything after you're over 50 in this high tech economy deserves a tad more feeling than you give.

I find this a bit odd of a remark. I'm 32, and I've had to "retool" my resume every other year for the last decade, and go out of my way to make sure I was up to-date on the latest practices, software, and so forth. The software industry is volatile, it doesn't matter how much money your company has in the bank or how senior your position is... in a year *poof* it (and you) could be gone. So I think part of making the "big bux" is constantly making sure you're not living in last year's tech.

If I am expected to do this as part of my job, why isn't someone who is 50 and competing with me expected to do the same? And, furthermore, why would they demand a greater salary for knowing less?

I don't mean to be heartless, because yeah it sucks and one day I'll be 50 and all the kids with spinal jacks and fiber optic synapses will be able to assimilate information 1000x faster than me. But I wouldn't expect to compete with them either.

FlaGator
09-21-2010, 08:58 AM
I find this a bit odd of a remark. I'm 32, and I've had to "retool" my resume every other year for the last decade, and go out of my way to make sure I was up to-date on the latest practices, software, and so forth. The software industry is volatile, it doesn't matter how much money your company has in the bank or how senior your position is... in a year *poof* it (and you) could be gone. So I think part of making the "big bux" is constantly making sure you're not living in last year's tech.

If I am expected to do this as part of my job, why isn't someone who is 50 and competing with me expected to do the same? And, furthermore, why would they demand a greater salary for knowing less?

I don't mean to be heartless, because yeah it sucks and one day I'll be 50 and all the kids with spinal jacks and fiber optic synapses will be able to assimilate information 1000x faster than me. But I wouldn't expect to compete with them either.

I tend to agree. I am in a high tech field and I am required by necessity to stay up on new trends in technology and it is encumbent on me to educate myself. I started out as a system programmer using assembly and the C language, due to changes in business and programming paradigms I re-educated myself in data architecting, database administration, data warehousing and data management. Since then I have added Java and more recently C# to my skills set in order to do business object and UI design (when necessary). I also switched from a FTE at the beginning of my career to a consultant. In 2000 the market dictated that I become an FTE again and in 2009 I switched back to consultant... again because I have to be flexible with the market in order to stay employed