In "Where Not to be Old and Jobless" I take a closer look August’s sunny unemployment report. While we are rightly celebrating the return of the headline unemployment rate to its pre-crisis level, the recovery is not benefiting all workers equally.
I look at the unemployment rate of workers above age 55 in tech-boom cities and find it high. The unemployment rate measures the ratio of people actively looking for work compared to the total labor force. So when we see an unemployment rate of 12.2% for workers over age 55 in Austin, Texas, we know that older workers are stressed, especially considering that the unemployment rate for workers under 55 in Austin is only 3.6%.
Is this surprising? Austin is a tech-hub, and older workers just don’t get technology, right? Probably not. While more research is needed into this subject, I’d speculate this is a result of age-discrimination and a decline in bargaining power.
Regardless of the causes, however, a few things are clear. These numbers likely understate the problem. Early retirement is often involuntary. And there are easy solutions. At minimum, we should expand Social Security and create universal pensions to help older workers prepare for retirement regardless of their level of economic stress.