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Money May 2013

Dollar Sense

The Job Scene for Mature Workers: The Jobs Are Out There

By Teresa Ambord

While fewer in the older generations are out of work, for those who do lose their jobs, it takes longer to find re-employment. Among those age 25-34 it takes an average of 36.4 weeks to find a new job. While for those 55-64, it takes an average of 54.6 weeks to be re-employed.

TV and movies often portray older workers as being up a creek without a hope-paddle when they lose their jobs. Nobody wants to hire the grayheads – that’s the idea we see on the screens. The truth is jobs are hard to find no matter your age, but generally speaking, older workers are not the lowest on the hiring totem pole. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the percentage of older workers who are unemployed is lower than for overall joblessness. Here’s the picture from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • 5.8% of workers age 55 and up were jobless and actively seeking work.
  • The national average of jobless and actively seeking work is 7.7%. This may be because older workers are much more likely to be settled into long-term jobs or careers than their younger counterparts, who may still be at or near entry level. Here’s the downside of the BLS figures. While fewer in the older generations are out of work, for those who do lose their jobs, it takes longer to find re-employment. Among those age 25-34 it takes an average of 36.4 weeks to find a new job. While for those 55-64, it takes an average of 54.6 weeks to be re-employed.

“Being age 55-64 and out of work is particularly difficult, because you’re unable to tap into the traditional safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security,” said Nora Dowd Eisenhower, senior vice president of economic security at the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The NCOA seeks to improve the chances of older adults to get the training and jobs they need.

It could be that the length of unemployment is more about the quality of the job that is sought, since chances are, an older person will be seeking a substantial job in a field they’ve worked in before, perhaps for decades. Younger people may still be looking for entry level work.


Seniors Doing the Jobs of 16 Year Olds?

The age group that has been hardest hit by the sluggish economy is actually those who barely have a foot on the workforce ladder. Statistics show that workers age 62, on the average, have actually seen an increase in working hours, those at the opposite end of the ladder – 16 year olds – have seen hours cut by 40%.

Why the difference? Obviously these employees have the least experience, and many may not have developed – and may never develop – the work ethics that make older workers valuable. Still, there’s more to it than that. Some employers with low skill jobs to offer – fast food jobs and greeters, for example – might prefer to hire younger workers who will earn less and may (emphasis on “may”) have more energy. But in this economy, older workers who could retire are staying on the job longer. That affects everyone down the ladder, all the way to the entry-level workers. That’s partly because many seniors have reached retirement age with more debt than they should have. But also as their younger relatives lose their jobs and/or homes there’s a good chance they will move in with the parents who were all set to retire. If the parents are the only ones with jobs, they have little choice other than to keep working.

Looking for Work

If you are searching for a new job, here are a few places to try.

Go to, and key in your zip code. I live in a smallish area and yet when I visited this site in the process of writing about jobs, I saw there were a great many positions listed. Some offered work from home, some were part-time, other full-time. And several specified “mature” workers.

Also try,

Do you have a college degree? You might consider substitute teaching. If you’re not sure how to start, contact your local school board, or ask a teacher or school employee you may know. Substitute teaching allows you to manipulate your schedule to suit your needs, and it requires little or no prep work.

If there is a senior center in your area, give them a call. They may be aware of some needs you could fill. Then again, you could turn a passion into a job you create for yourself. Read Making Extra Money to see what some people have done to pad their income and in some cases, pursue their dreams.

Making Extra Money

Whether you are trying to fill empty hours or an empty bank account, look to your strengths and/or your personal interests to figure out how to do that. I spent years working as an accountant. To make ends meet, in my spare time I did the books for a couple of small companies and in tax season I had a dozen or so tax clients. Now I am a full-time business writer (a much more satisfying job) and in my spare time, I write articles about my family as well as articles for various publications. The stories I’ve sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul in the last couple of years are financing my upcoming cruise to Alaska.

Don’t make a common mistake, which is offering a luxury item during tough economic times (unless you offer it far more cheaply than it can be gotten elsewhere, but then it may not be worth it to you). An important key to success right now is to offer something people need anyway and offer it more affordably. In a down economy, new car lots collect dust while car repair shops and auto parts stores do well. High price landscaping services may lose business while the hard working guy with the beat up truck and lawn tools will gain customers. Here are some real examples of ways people have found to add income while meeting needs more affordably.

  • Tutoring. Some retired teachers have created work for themselves by offering a few hours a week to tutor children who are behind in school.
  • Pet daycare. One woman who loves dogs began offering her services locally to people who can’t walk their dogs regularly, as well as vacation care for pets when the owners are gone. When the work is too much for her, she hires neighbors to help.
  • Pet transportation. An older gentleman started using his van to help people get their pets to the vet or groomer or wherever. When the pets are too heavy or rowdy for him, he hires teenagers to help.
  • Organizers. One man who was a skilled organizer formed a business cleaning out and organizing garages. And a woman who is also a good organizer calls herself a “move manager.” She helps people who need to move by coordinating what needs to be thrown out, kept, given away, and donated. She helps with packing and labeling. Some of her clients are fellow seniors, while others are younger people who are too busy to make an efficient move.
  • Grass/snow. A woman whose grandson was doing grass cutting and snow removal for her decided to become his manager. She is the contact point, sets up his jobs, and collects for him. This little enterprise has grown to the point she now has added other kid workers. Customers get affordable and well-maintained properties, she gets income, and so do the kids she employs.
  • Writers. You can also do what I do. There are numerous content mills online, like Demand Studios and, and You don’t have to be a professional writer, but you can become one through sites like these. They won’t make you rich, unless you branch out and write novels like John Grisham. But sites like these can add a little income from the comfort of your home. There are other sites that are less reputable. As a full-time writer/editor, my advice would be stick with one of these two to begin with.


Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa