Even though older workers are challenged in today’s job market—with more than a third of those 55 and up experiencing unemployment lasting longer than a year—there’s a bright spot for older workers these days in finance as well as other industries where employers seek true specialists.
This segment of the population is enjoying the strongest job gains of any age group right now, says global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
In an analysis of government labor, data found that job seekers 55 and older account for nearly 70 percent of U.S. employment gains since January 1, 2010. Older job seekers accounted for 2,998,000 or 69 percent of total employment growth from January 2010 through May 2011, according to household survey data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Older finance pros are finding management slots
Belying the myth that older workers are finding only low-paying jobs, the latest employment statistics reveal that some of the biggest employment gains for those 55 and older have occurred among managers and professionals.
As of May 2012, there were 6,274,000 Americans 55 and older employed in management, business and financial operations.
That is up a significant 12 percent since May of last year. The number working in professional and related occupations has also increased a full 10 percent from May 2010 to May 2012.
Helping to drive the employment gains among experienced job seekers is the fact that a majority of companies recognize the value of having these workers on their payrolls, says Challenger, Gray, pointing to a 2011 survey of company executives and benefit administrators by Bank of America.
“The unemployment rate among older workers still has a ways to go before reaching pre-recession levels of about 3 percent, but the pace at which these job seekers are finding employment compared to younger ones suggests they could reach pre-recession jobless rates before anyone else,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“The economy is still only slowly recovering, so employers have repeatedly indicated that they are only adding workers when absolutely necessary," he adds. "In this environment, a seasoned candidate who brings a wide variety of skills and experience to the table is going to have an advantage over younger candidates.
About 94 percent of those responding to the Bank of America survey said it is important to keep older workers due to their skills.
“For employers, one experienced candidate is worth two or three younger, greener candidates, in terms of the ability to make immediate and meaningful contributions to output and the bottom line,” said Challenger.
In order to attract and retain these workers, the survey found that companies are offering customized schedules, education on retirement and health care and the ability to work from home.
Despite the latest number crunching, it is true that a growing portion of older job seekers are enduring long-term unemployment.
“According to data from the Government Accountability Office, 55 percent of workers 55 and older have been unemployed for 27 weeks, with 36 percent out of work for more than a year,” reports Challenger, Gray. “In contrast, just 23 percent of older workers were jobless for 27 weeks or longer in 2007.“