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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Labor force participation rate for people ages 55+ edges up in March

Labor force participation rate for people ages 55+ edges up in March


 

Employment overview for those ages 55+

 

The monthly Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the economy added 98,000 jobs in March 2017 — an unexpectedly smaller increase from the first two months of the year. The number of persons ages 55+ who are employed increased slightly from February. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and older remained unchanged, at 3.4 percent and approximately 1.2 million unemployed. The percentage of the 55+ population that is either working or actively seeking work, i.e. the labor force participation rate, increased slightly to 40.1 percent. The labor force participation rate of persons ages 55+ has remained at around 40 percent throughout the past year. In March the labor force participation rate of men ages 55+ was 46.1 percent, compared with 34.9 percent for women ages 55+.

 

Spotlight on women ages 55+ in the labor market

 

The percentage of women ages 55+ participating in the labor force has held steady over the past year, averaging 34.7 percent compared with 56.8 percent for women ages 16 years and over.  However, over the longer term, women’s labor market participation has undergone significant shifts.  Only about one-third of women were in the labor force when the government first began measuring their participation rate in 1948, and only 17.2 percent of women ages 55+ were in the workforce at that time.  Over time more women began to enter the labor market; their overall participation rate peaked in 1999 at 60 percent. The labor force participation rate for women ages 55+ peaked in 2013 at 35.1 percent.

 

From 2000 to 2015 the labor force participation rate for most age groups and both sexes decreased. However, the participation rates of men and women ages 55+ rose from 2000 to 2009, with the rates for women 55+ remaining close to 35 percent since 2010.

 

Education has been a key factor influencing women’s labor force participation and is likely to continue to have an impact in the future.  Over the past several years, women earned the majority of college degrees of all levels. If this trend continues, employers faced with the need for college-educated workers are likely to seek more ways to attract and retain female employees.  This in turn may influence the number of women in the labor market – and the number who continue to work at older ages.

 

For more of this month’s employment data on Americans ages 55 and over, check out PPI’s Employment Data Digest.

 

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 ages 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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