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Are Older Workers Surviving The Downturn Better Than The Young?

February 4th, 2009 · 3 Comments

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Old vs. young

Are younger workers having a harder time in this job market than their older cohorts?

The conventional wisdom, based on previous downturns, is that older (read: more expensive) workers are either laid off or offered sweet early retirement incentives to make way for younger (read: cheaper) workers.

But this BusinessWeek article suggests otherwise.

In fact, according to the article, quite the opposite might be happening.

I found the data in this graf amazing:

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tell the tale: The number of people aged 55 and up with jobs actually rose nearly 900,000 from the start of the recession, in December 2007, through last year. By comparison, people aged 25 to 54 lost nearly 2.9 million jobs. The share of older Americans who have jobs has risen during the recession, while the share of younger Americans with jobs has plunged.

And then there was this:

In the teeth of the recession, some bosses are even seeking out over-55 workers. CVS Caremark (CVS) is cutting some 800 administrative jobs after it bought a rival drugstore chain last fall. Yet it is scouring the country to hire staffers for its stores.CVS’s recruitment target: baby boomers and other older workers. “We need their expertise,” says Stephen M. Wing, director of workforce initiatives. “When you’re in your 50s and 60s, you’re in your prime.”

Some companies believe older workers are potent role models. Baystate Health, a 10,000-employee health-care system in western Massachusetts, relies on older nurses to mentor recruits in the operating room. Says Jean Jackson, vice-president for workforce planning: “Our ability to keep seasoned employees for longer periods will be critical for us.”

What’s the story? Are you seeing this in your workplaces? If so, I’m amazed.

Could it be that the (comparatively) strongest part of the workforce is on the gray side of the spectrum?

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Tags: Recession · Retirement

  • Jodith

    Well, I don’t know if my age factored into my hiring or not, although you can certainly get a good estimate of my age from my resume. However, where I’m currently working, the last 3 people hired in the group are significantly older than the rest of the folks in our group (we do tech support for a refinery). I’m 46, and I’m pretty sure the other 2 are just a bit older than I am. All the rest of the team are well under 30.

  • CK

    It appears not to matter here. If they can hire your for cheap then you’re hired. The employers are concerned with how much you cost – not how old! But people are willing to work for next to nothing just to have a job – period!

    But there also appears that there is more age discrimination … at least where I work!

  • Stefanie

    That is interesting – the article talks about union rules emphasizing seniority, but so little of the workplace is actually unionized. I think it is just a case of baby boomers hanging on to their jobs!