Recession Eliminated First Hired, Last Fired For First Time In Decades

The Covid-19 recession has led to higher unemployment six months and longer for those 55 and older than mid-career workers 35 to 54 in nearly half of a century, according to a new report by The New School’s Retirement Equity Lab (ReLab).

First hired and last fired is changing: first in first out is becoming the new norm, said ReLab Director Teresa Ghilarducci.

“This is the first time since the mid-1970s we see this gap persist for this long,” said ReLab’s Owen Davis, the primary author of the study.

If older workers’ rate of job loss were as low as mid-career workers’ during the pandemic, roughly 1 million older workers would still have their jobs, the study asserted.

Until this downturn, in every recession since the 1970s, older workers had persistently lower unemployment rates than mid-career workers partly because of the benefits of seniority, the ReLab report pointed out.

The study noted the trend of higher job losses for people 55 and above than those in mid-career that kicked in at the start of the pandemic in March and April is continuing.

A slower recovery for older workers (from April to September 28 percent of these unemployed found jobs each month compared to 32 percent for the mid-career) has put many at risk for poverty, near poverty and downward mobility the report added.

“Between April and September, unemployed older workers were nearly five times more likely to leave the labor force than employed older workers. An average 22% of unemployed older workers left the labor force compared to 4.5% of employed older workers,” the study pointed out.

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Ghilarducci said age discrimination is being exacerbated currently by the lack of unionization.

She asserted the higher involuntary retirement for older workers in the Covid-19 recession has showcased the need for universal pensions and expanded Social Security benefits.

The full report:

EconomicpolicyresearchA First in Nearly 50 Years, Older Workers Face Higher Unemployment Than Mid-Career Workers – The New School SCEPA

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