Youngest, oldest job seekers hit hard

People who once thought they could retire in their early 60s or scale back to part time are trying to stay fully employed in this recession. We also see an accelerated decline in the teen labor force. Are they connected?

It’s a tempting a story line — oldsters and teens duke it out over jobs! It’s not really happening that way (although if anyone has a story to share about competing for a job against someone who was significantly older or younger, please let me know.) There’s no doubt, though, the recession has hit younger and older job seekers hard.

We’ve heard repeatedly from sources in MPR’s Public Insight Network who are in their late 50s and early 60s, telling us they need to work longer than expected or find job.

Jeff Gregory of Eagan recently wrote us:

As a 64 & 62 year old couple that has lost our one remaining job…and only 14 weeks of severance to make it 1 1/2 years to SS I’m not sure that we can do it. I’m starting the hunt for Obama bucks now and hope I can find enough to hold on till 65.

While the unemployment rate for workers age 55 to 64 is much lower than the overall state jobless rate, it’s become a problem because that older workforce has grown so much — by 50 percent this decade.

Add on the hit so many people of taken to the value of their retirement accounts and you find a lot more people toward the end of their careers needing to stay employed.

The recession’s also put the gas to to a decade-long drop in youth employment.

In its teen summer jobs outlook report, the state labor department wrote:

The entry level labor market is getting more crowded as experienced workers
are hit by layoffs, older workers delay retirement and brand-new college graduates seek employment outside their fields of study.

That report also highlighted a big drop in the labor force participation rate of Minnesota’s youth.

The rate is the percentage of teens who are either employed or unemployed and looking for work.

It’s tempting to look at the data and dismiss today’s teens as unwilling to work. But a recent analysis by the Minneapolis Fed shows it’s complicated. We’ve tried to get at that with MPR’s My First Recession package.

The Fed noted in some places in Minnesota teens have been searching for jobs and that Minneapolis saw more than 3,200 applications for 1,300 openings in its youth jobs programs.

There are opportunities out there. The state’s using stimulus money to help fund youth programs.

The reality is that while Minnesotans on the ends of the age/employment spectrum are needing work and struggling just as much as the breadwinners in this economy.


OK, I don’t feel like I’ve done justice to this issue in this post. Feels like I’ve left a lot out. So help me out. Post below and add to the conversation; tell me where I’m wrong. Or click here and tell us your own story about the job market in Minnesota.

Check out the map below to read what people in the Network are telling us about the job climate around them.

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