Employment for those ages 55+ holds steady in November

Employment for those ages 55+ holds steady in November



Employment overview

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) November Employment Situation Summary showed the economy added 228,000 jobs—down slightly from the 244,000 jobs added in October (revised down from 261,000). Both the overall unemployment rate and the unemployment rate for persons 55 and older remained unchanged from October at 4.1and 3.1 percent, respectively. The number of unemployed individuals ages 55+ was also unchanged at 1.1 million and the labor force participation rate for those 55 and older increased slightly to 39.9 percent in November from 39.8 percent in October. As in October, jobs were added in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. The percentage of jobseekers ages 55+ who are long-term unemployed, defined as looking for work for 27 or more weeks, increased from 34.7 percent to 37 percent.

Spotlight on Employment Projections to 2026

In October 2017, the BLS released its latest employment projections for 2016 to 2026. The data cover overall job growth, labor market demographics, and industry projections.  The overall employment forecast for the United States is an increase of 11.5 million workers in the decade leading up to 2026. This represents an increase from 156.1 million to 167.6 million workers, or 0.7 percent annual growth. The projected growth rate is faster than the 0.5 growth rate during the previous decade, which was strongly influenced by the effects of the Great Recession.

The demographics of the labor force are projected to grow more diverse and will be influenced by the overall aging of the population.

In 2026 the labor force participation rate is projected to decrease to 61.0 percent, down from 62.8 percent in 2016. The highest level of labor force participation, 67.1 percent, occurred in 2000. The aging population is forecast to lower overall labor force participation as more people exit the labor market. At the same time, however, the aging population will lead to greater numbers of older workers in the workforce.

The BLS predicts that the share of workers 55 and older will grow to 24.8 percent in 2026, an increase from 22.4 percent in 2016 and 16.8 percent in 2006. Slow labor force growth will also reflect, to some degree, a slowdown in the growth of the civilian non-institutional population. The annual rate of 0.9 percent population growth from 2016 to 2026 is slower than both the 1.0 percent growth from 2006 to 2016 and the 1.3 percent growth from 1996 to 2006.

New jobs will largely be in the service sector, accounting for approximately 9 out of 10 new jobs. As the population ages, health care and social assistance industries, as well as the occupations within these industries, are projected to make up a large proportion of the jobs created in the years leading up to 2026. Nearly 4.0 million jobs are projected to be added by 2026 in this sector, representing approximately one-third of all new jobs. By 2026 it will be the largest major sector of the U.S. economy. Many of these jobs will require high skills levels and at least some level of postsecondary education.

For more details, check out the November Employment Data Digest, PPI’s monthly review of job trends for those ages 55 and over.

Jen Schramm is a senior strategic policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute. As part of the Financial Security Team, she identifies policy challenges and opportunities related to workers age 50 and above. Through research and analyses of emerging employment trends, she develops policy options to inform AARP’s strategy on work and jobs, including helping older workers find and retain jobs.

 



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Job market rebounds in October

Job market rebounds in October



 

Employment overview

After the strong impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma in September, the job market rebounded in October, adding 261,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate for those ages 55 and older decreased slightly to 39.8 percent. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) October Employment Situation report showed the overall unemployment rate was down to 4.1 percent, it also showed a decline in the overall labor force participation rate (62.7 percent).  The employment rate (employment-population ratio) also declined by 0.2 percentage points to 60.2 percent. Jobs were added in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. The unemployment rate for those ages 55+ was down slightly to 3.1 percent. The percentage of jobseekers ages 55+ who are long-term unemployed (i.e., looking for 27 or more weeks) declined from 35.3 percent to 34.7 percent.

Spotlight on Individuals with Disabilities in the Labor Market

Because the risk of disability increases with age, the labor market experiences of individuals with disabilities can sometimes mirror the experience of older workers overall.  The BLS collects data on the labor force characteristics of persons with a disability. Its overview of the 2016 data revealed that those ages 65 and over represented a large proportion of individuals with disabilities—47 percent. Women were more likely to have a disability than were men.

There are large differences between the employment levels of those with and without disabilities. For example, the employment rate for those without a disability was 65.3 percent, while only 17.9 percent of those with a disability were working. The unemployment rate for individuals with a disability was more than double that of those without a disability (10.5 percent compared 4.6 percent). These higher rates of unemployment for individuals with a disability were seen across all levels of educational attainment.

Thirty-four percent of workers with a disability were employed part-time in 2016 compared with 18 percent of workers without a disability. Those with a disability were slightly more likely to report that they were working only part-time for economic reasons, such as reduced hours or not being able to find a full-time job (6 percent versus 4 percent of those without a disability).

Factors that may increase the labor market participation rates of individuals with a disability in the years ahead include increased overall labor demand, technological advances, and employment policies that facilitate fuller inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the workforce.

For more details on this month’s employment numbers, check out the October Employment Data Digest, PPI’s monthly review of job trends for those ages 55 and over.

 

Jen Schramm is a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute. As part of the Financial Security Team, she identifies policy challenges and opportunities related to workers age 50 and above. Through research and analyses of emerging employment trends, she develops policy options to inform AARP’s strategy on work and jobs, including helping older workers find and retain jobs.



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Economy loses 33,000 jobs in September

Economy loses 33,000 jobs in September



Employment overview

The economy lost 33,000 jobs in September largely reflecting the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Despite the overall job loss, the labor force participation rate for those ages 55 and older decreased only slightly to 40.1 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) September Employment Situation report showed the overall labor force participation rate edged up slightly to 63.1 percent.  The unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent with 6.8 million persons remaining unemployed.  Much of the impact of the hurricanes was seen in the food services sector, which lost 105,000 jobs. Meanwhile, jobs were added in health care, transportation, and warehousing. The unemployment rate for those ages 55+ was unchanged from August (3.2 percent), but the percentage of job seekers ages 55+ who are long-term unemployed (i.e., looking for 27 or more weeks) rose from 30.5 percent to 35.3 percent.

Spotlight: Labor Market Experiences of Americans at Age 50

Turning to more long-term trends, the BLS recently released new findings from an ongoing longitudinal study of Americans born between 1957 and 1964, the tail end of the baby boomer generation.  The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 is a survey of 9,964 men and women who were ages 14 to 22 in 1979 when the study first began. Participants were most recently interviewed in 2014-2015. The recently released findings track the number of jobs, labor market experience, and earnings growth of this age cohort.

Interestingly, the average annual percentage growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings was highest for this cohort during their late teens and early twenties. This means that their earnings increased most rapidly while they were young and just at the beginning of their careers. As a cohort, they never again replicated this rate of earnings growth over the course of their career life span, reflecting some of the larger economic trends over the ensuing decades of their lives. Earnings growth rates tended to be higher for college graduates compared with workers with less education.

Individuals without a high school diploma had lower percentages of weeks in employment compared with individuals with higher levels of education. Men were employed a greater percentage of weeks than women (84 percent of weeks for men versus 71 percent of weeks for women). But the percentage of weeks of employment grew for women from 63 percent in the 18 to 24 age category to 76 percent in the 35 to 44 age group. Overall this group of baby boomers were employed on average 78 percent of the weeks from age 18 to age 50.

This group of baby boomers held an average of 11.9 jobs from the ages of 18 to 50, spanning from five jobs while ages 18 to 24 down to 4.5 jobs from ages 25 to 34, to 2.9 jobs from ages 35 to 44, and to 1.7 jobs from ages 45 to 50. Older workers are generally thought to have longer average job durations but the study found that at least for this youngest cohort of baby boomers, short-duration jobs continued to be common at older ages. Among jobs started during ages 35 to 44, 75 percent ended in fewer than five years.

For more details on this month’s employment numbers, check out the September Employment Data Digest, PPI’s monthly review of job trends for those ages 55 and over.

 

Jen Schramm is a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute. As part of the Financial Security Team, she identifies policy challenges and opportunities related to workers age 50 and above. Through research and analyses of emerging employment trends, she develops policy options to inform AARP’s strategy on work and jobs, including helping older workers find and retain jobs.

 



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Fewer Jobs Added in August but Labor Force Participation of the 55+ Holds Steady

Fewer Jobs Added in August but Labor Force Participation of the 55+ Holds Steady



Employment overview

Though hiring slowed in August, the labor force participation rate for those ages 55 and older rose slightly to 40.2 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August Employment Situation Report found that the overall labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 62.9 percent and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4 percent with 7.1 million unemployed persons.  Jobs were added in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care, and mining. While the unemployment rate for those ages 55+ was unchanged in August (3.2 percent), the percentage of jobseekers 55+ who are long-term unemployed (i.e., looking for 27 or more weeks) declined to 30.5 percent.

Spotlight on Job Openings and Labor Turnover

Along with various other measures of unemployment, the BLS also tracks job openings, hiring, and job separations.  Job separations encompass all employees who separated from the payroll during the month and can result from a number of different actions. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Separations initiated by the employee include quits, where employees leave voluntarily.  Other separations include retirements, transfers to other locations, deaths, and separations due to employee disability.

These data are collected monthly in the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report.  The data are seen as a useful barometer of job market efficiency.   The changes in the JOLTS data reflect shifts in both the business cycle and in industry growth or decline.  The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening is a key aspect of the JOLTS report because it indicates to what extent there are labor shortages or surpluses.  For example, the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening was 1.9 when the Great Recession began in December 2007 but jumped to 6.6 at the height of the unemployment crisis in July 2009.  The most recent JOLTS report indicated that there were 6.2 million job openings in June 2017 and that the ratio of unemployed persons per job opening was only 1.1.

The JOLTS data suggest that some employers may be experiencing difficulty filling their vacancies because the ratio of open jobs to jobseekers is currently quite low. In addition, many available applicants may not have the needed skills to perform all required job tasks.  A dearth of qualified applicants could be one reason why employers have reported increases in the time it takes to hire new workers. Many positions require higher skill levels and these jobs typically take longer to fill.

For more details on this month’s employment numbers, check out the August Employment Data Digest, PPI’s monthly review of job trends for those ages 55 and over.

Jen Schramm is a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute. As part of the Financial Security Team, she identifies policy challenges and opportunities related to workers age 50 and above. Through research and analyses of emerging employment trends, she develops policy options to inform AARP’s strategy on work and jobs, including helping older workers find and retain jobs.

 



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Long-Term Unemployment Down for People Ages 55+ in July

Long-Term Unemployment Down for People Ages 55+ in July



 

Employment overview

 

While many employment indicators for the 55+ were unchanged from June, the July 2017 Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that more people ages 55+ were employed and a lower percentage of jobseekers ages 55+ were experiencing long-term unemployment.  Overall, the economy added 209,000 jobs in July, down from 231,000 (revised) in June.  The unemployment rate for those ages 55 and older was virtually unchanged at 3.2 percent with 1.2 million of the 55+ unemployed.  The labor force participation rate for the 55+ was also unchanged at 40.1 percent.

 

Spotlight on employee tenure

 

With unemployment at a 16-year low and many employers concerned about skills shortages, organizations are putting a renewed emphasis on retaining their best employees for as long as possible. An attribute often ascribed to older workers is employer loyalty, best expressed through longer job tenure.  BLS data has shown that older workers do indeed stay with their employers longer compared with their younger counterparts. The most recent data on overall median tenure (the point at which half of all wage and salary workers had more tenure and half had less tenure) was 4.2 years in January 2016. This was a decline from 4.6 years in January 2014.

 

Median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 was 10.1 years, more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 (2.8 years). A greater percentage of older workers also had been with their employers for at least a decade compared with younger workers. Workers ages 60 to 64 were particularly likely to have long tenures. Fifty-five percent of workers in this age range were with their employers for a decade or more.  Meanwhile, only 13 percent of workers ages 30 to 34 and 24 percent of workers ages 35 to 39 had tenures of 10 years or more.

 

Many factors can influence job tenures. Education levels appear to influence tenure, with individuals with lower levels of education typically also having lower median tenures.  The industry and occupational mix within the economy can also be a factor. For example, public sector workers, which are more likely to include older individuals, had more than double the median tenure of private-sector workers in 2016. Further, workers in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median tenure, at 5.1 years, while food service workers had the lowest median tenure, at only 1.9 years. Other factors beyond the worker’s control, like widespread layoffs that change with the business cycle, can affect job tenures as well.

 

Because longer tenure is associated with age, the aging of the workforce could influence tenure rates in the years ahead.

 

For more details on this month’s employment numbers, check out the July Employment Data Digest, PPI’s monthly review of job trends for those ages 55 and over.

 

Jen Schramm is a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute. As part of the Financial Security Team, she identifies policy challenges and opportunities related to workers age 50 and above. Through research and analyses of emerging employment trends, she develops policy options to inform AARP’s strategy on work and jobs, including helping older workers find and retain jobs.

 



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Unemployment of Workers Ages 55+ Edges Up in June Despite Strong Jobs Growth

Unemployment of Workers Ages 55+ Edges Up in June Despite Strong Jobs Growth



Employment overview

The economy added 222,000 jobs last month, up from 152,000 (revised) in May according to the June Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Though the number of jobs increased, more people, such as previously discouraged workers or new graduates, joined the labor force, edging the unemployment rate up slightly to 4.4. percent.  Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and older was 3.2 percent with 1.2 million of the 55+ unemployed.  The labor force participation rate for the 55+ also rose slightly to 40.1 percent.

Spotlight on older workers working part-time

In June 2017, there were approximately 7.4 million people ages 55 and over who were working part-time (i.e. working fewer than 35 hours per week) compared with 27.8 million who were working full-time. The number of people ages 55 and over that work part-time more than doubled, from approximately 3.4 million in 1986 to 7.4 million in 2017. Of those, approximately 3.5 million were ages 65 and older.

The increased number of older workers in part-time jobs partly reflects the overall growth in the older worker population.  For many people working past traditional retirement age, part-time work offers the financial rewards and social interaction of a job while also providing more flexibility and free time than full-time work.

Reasons older workers give for working part-time vary.  Individuals at or beyond full retirement age (66+) are most likely to say they are working part-time due to “retirement and/or the Social Security earnings limit” (these two reasons are treated as one category in the BLS Current Population Survey).  One-quarter of those ages of 50 to 65 cite caregiving responsibilities as the reason they are working part time. Other reasons individuals in this age category report they are working part-time involve economic conditions (19 percent), such as not being able to secure full-time employment, while 8 percent said they are working part-time due to health or medical limitations.

While many part-time jobs will continue to be concentrated in lower-wage occupations, high-wage occupations sometimes offer part-time work opportunities. In industries where skills shortages are a growing problem, employers may create more high-wage part-time jobs as a way to attract highly-skilled older workers.

For more details check out the June Employment Data Digest, PPI’s monthly review of job trends for those ages 55 and over.

 

Jen Schramm is a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute. As part of the Financial Security Team, she identifies policy challenges and opportunities related to workers age 50 and above. Through research and analyses of emerging employment trends, she develops policy options to inform AARP’s strategy on work and jobs, including helping older workers find and retain jobs.

 



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