AARP

Over 55 and unemployed? Finally a bit of good news

December 8, 2010: 10:30 AM ET

The November unemployment rate for people 55 and older is lower than for any younger age group, welcome news for a group that often worries about being shut out of jobs by age bias.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

Scratch the surface of November's disappointing unemployment statistics, and you find yet more evidence that, while joblessness plagues almost every stratum of society, not everyone is affected in quite the same way.

With unemployment hovering around 5% for people with college degrees, about half the rate for the population as a whole, education is clearly a big factor.

Age is another. Consider: The November unemployment rate for people 55 and older, at 7.3%, is lower than for any younger age group. About 276,000 more Americans under 55 reported being out of work in November than in October. Yet during that same month, employers added 123,000 age-55-and-over workers to their payrolls.

What's more, the number of "discouraged workers" -- unemployed people who have given up looking for jobs -- who are 55 or older fell by an eye-catching 16% in November, from 335,000 to 280,000. This means that "people are starting to see opportunities, and they believe it's time to get back in the game," says Deborah Russell, director of workforce issues at AARP.

That's all welcome news for a group that often worries about being shut out of jobs by age bias, or by what some call "the O word" (for "overqualified"). More

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