For the nearly 7 million experienced people age 65 and older who are still in the labor force, jobless rates have consistently been lower than for all workers. That's scant comfort if you're having trouble finding a job, or finding a job that pays you what you're worth. What's become painfully clear in this jobless recovery is that keeping a job is vital and that job-hopping is a thing of the past for most people. So, be thankful if you've got a job.
To help provide a clearer picture of where the jobs are for older employees, by occupation, U.S. News gathered detailed information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is public information but the BLS doesn't publish it, and it differs a bit from what you're used to seeing. For example, the national jobless rate in October was 10.2 percent. But the rate here is only 8.8 percent. That's because this unpublished data is not seasonally adjusted. The other primary difference, according to a BLS economist, is that the 10.2 figure includes people with no prior work experience and those who had just left military duty to look for work. The table below includes only people with prior work experience. That makes sense in looking at the job outlook for older employees, because virtually all of us have held jobs in the past.
Use the table below by finding the general category that includes your skill sets. As of October, you'll see the number of people aged 65 and older in the category and their share in the overall workforce of experienced people of all ages. Next, you'll notice the unemployment rates last month for all experienced workers and for workers 65 and older. Finally, you'll see the comparable unemployment rates for both groups of workers in October of 2008.
From this information, you can identify which occupations have low unemployment rates and how those rates have changed during the past year. You can spot where older employees have fared best, and worst. And while people aged 65 and up represent 4.4 percent of all experienced workers, you can see that their share by occupation ranges from 1.3 percent (computer and mathematical jobs) to 6.6 percent (community and social services).
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Older employees had an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent last month (remember, that's seasonally unadjusted) versus 8.8 percent for all experienced workers. Lower jobless rates for older employees were the case across most occupations, and in some occupations, the edge for older employees was pronounced. In community and social services, the jobless rate for people 65 and older was only 0.7 percent, versus 3.9 percent for all experienced workers. In the major services category (which includes five occupational areas), the overall jobless rate was 10 percent but only 4.4 percent for older employees. Prospects for older workers are relatively bleak in architecture and engineering, where they experienced 16.5 percent unemployment last month, compared with overall unemployment of 6.6 percent in those professions.
Where the Jobs Are for Older Workers
||Age 65+ Work Force||% Unemployment Rate||% Unemployment Rate|
|Number (000)||% All Workers||All Workers||Age 65+||All Workers||Age 65+|
|Total, 16 years and over||6,695||4.4||8.8||6.2||5.6||4.1|
|Management, professional, and related||2,677||4.8||4.7||4.5||3.0||2.9|
|Management, business, and financial operations||1,264||5.6||5.4||4.6||3.0||1.1|
|Business and financial operations||269||4.2||6.0||5.8||3.6||2.1|
|Professional and related||1,413||4.3||4.2||4.4||3.0||4.4|
|Computer and mathematical||49||1.3||4.6||3.7||3.5||6.7|
|Architecture and engineering||127||4.2||6.6||16.5||3.7||9.4|
|Life, physical, and social science||85||5.9||5.4||2.2||3.2||*|
|Community and social services||170||6.6||3.9||0.7||2.5||3.1|
|Education, training, and library||379||4.1||4.1||3.0||2.2||5.7|
|Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media||189||5.9||6.9||9.4||6.7||8.4|
|Healthcare practitioner and technical||302||3.7||2.1||1.1||1.8||0.6|
|Food preparation and serving related||242||2.8||12.1||5.0||8.5||3.6|
|Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance||352||5.8||11.6||6.8||7.6||2.6|
|Personal care and service||275||5.0||9.3||3.0||6.2||7.2|
|Sales and office||1,761||4.8||9.4||7.5||5.9||4.5|
|Sales and related||870||5.1||9.5||5.4||6.1||3.5|
|Office and administrative support||891||4.6||9.2||9.6||5.7||5.5|
|Natural resources, construction, and maintenance||431||2.8||15.5||11.2||8.7||5.3|
|Farming, fishing, and forestry||57||5.3||13.3||12.5||9.5||8.6|
|Construction and extraction||194||2.1||19.1||11.4||10.7||5.8|
|Installation, maintenance, and repair||180||3.6||9.1||10.7||5.1||4.2|
|Production, transportation, and material moving||746||4.2||13.0||8.6||8.4||5.4|
|Transportation and material moving||477||5.2||11.6||5.7||7.9||4.7|
* Insufficient data to determine a value.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Labor