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Can Older Workers Overcome Worsening Job Prospects?

Just as college graduates take unpaid internships in the hopes of landing jobs, older and retired workers in search of full or part-time work may benefit from using volunteer stints as a springboard back into employment, experts say.

Job prospects for older workers show no signs of improving, unfortunately, even if at 6.7%, the unemployment rate among workers 55 and over last month remains far lower than the 9.1% rate for Americans overall, according to an AARP report released this week.

Since 2009, older Americans have joined the workforce in greater numbers than any other population group, however, those out of work tend to remain so far longer than their younger counterparts, the report found.

Among the unemployed, 60.7% of workers 55 and over were out of work for more than 27 weeks in September – up from 54.9 percent in August, the study found. Younger workers tend to move back into the ranks of the employed quicker, with only 43.4% of the unemployed out of work that long.

To improve one’s chances in the job market, Jean C. Setzfand, AARP’s vice president of financial security, suggests considering unpaid work, if possible.

“If the going is tough, which it really can be right now, consider volunteering for a position with an organization that you think might eventually hire you,” she says.


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.