Unemployment in particular has hurt older workers in this recession. Employees aged 55 and over are more likely to be unemployed and spend more time looking for new work than it does for younger workers. They are often discriminated against. This exacerbates the stresses associated with unemployment, contributes to other health concerns in the pandemic and undermines further financial security of workers.
Unemployment has been more widespread among older workers than among younger ones throughout much of the recession. Between July and November 2020, the unemployment rate for workers aged 65 and over averaged 7.1%, compared with 6.7% for workers aged 55 to 64 and 6.3% for employees 45 to 54 years of age. Unemployment rates tend to decline with age for mid-to-end job workers. This is the first decline where older workers have higher unemployment rates than slightly younger workers. Unemployment has been a particular challenge for older workers, but this problem is more prevalent in this decline than before.
Unemployed ex-workers also look longer for new work. The average length of unemployment of older workers has risen significantly over the course of the pandemic, gaining an average of 22.5 weeks for workers aged 55 and over from July to the present. -November 2020. In comparison, the average length of unemployment was 19.8 weeks for workers from 25 to 34 years of age. Longer unemployment periods among older workers exacerbate financial hardship and psychological pressures associated with unemployment.
Discouraging injury, unemployed former workers often suffer discrimination as they look for new work. Calculations based on Federal Reserve data show that, in 2019, just before the recession, 12.9 percent of unemployed workers aged 55 to 64 experienced some form of discrimination, citing -into age discrimination. In comparison, 10.5% of those with work in that same age group reported some form of discrimination. Among workers aged 65 and over, discrimination was even more widespread and the gap in employment was larger as 16.5% of the unemployed said they had discriminated and 13.0 % of those in work who had been discriminated against.
Age discrimination usually rises at the time of recess, as organizations try to cut costs by firing or not hiring more experienced staff – and therefore by pay higher. A number of factors specific to this decline may contribute to age discrimination. For example, some employers may decide that they do not want to hire people in an age group who are more likely to have bad COVID-19 symptoms, especially if the job involves including communication with the public. In addition, remote work that relies heavily on technology has become more common during the pandemic. And even veterans with the power of technology could face age discrimination based on assumptions about their digital skills. Experiencing such discrimination could be more stressful than looking for work, as well as hurting job opportunities.
The combination of being unemployed and looking for work, while also experiencing discrimination adds to psychological stress. Studies of Census data show that almost 55.4% of unemployed workers between the ages of 55 and 64 lost their jobs due to layoffs related to a pandemic or a business closure. , without interest or depression most of the time. In comparison, 29.3% of people with work in this age group felt that way. This gap is more related to unemployment than it is among other age groups. Unemployment exacerbates mental health for older workers near retirement, perhaps due to longer unemployment periods and the increased pressures of age discrimination that make new work more difficult.
The cumulative pressures ultimately affect the financial and physical health of former workers. They will be out of work for longer due to discrimination and have more health issues. Mental stress, for example, accompanies other health ailments such as obesity. In the typical pandemic, these conditions raise the chances of serious illness and higher health care costs. Even under nonviolent conditions, mental stress from discrimination raises the need for more medical care and therefore more out-of-pocket spending. Unemployed workers, however, are less likely to receive the necessary health care because they are already financially scarce. For example, calculations based on Census data show that 18.2% of unemployed workers aged 55 to 64 needed mental health services but did not receive them during the months off from July. to November 2020. In comparison, 15.0% of workers in need of work were in this age group but did not receive mental health services during that period. The lack of essential health care makes ex-employees more physically vulnerable and increases their health care costs over time. Physical, mental and financial pressures all interact to put a strain on older workers.
Older workers in this pandemic face greater financial and physical pressures than younger workers. These include long-term unemployment, threats to physical health from a horrible virus and discrimination. Meaningful interventions require public policy to help older workers address all of these factors.