The 416,000 Idahoans who are in their 50s and 60s face many challenges because of the coronavirus economic impact.
Loss of business income. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly reduced revenues of many Idaho businesses. It also is likely to lead to the permanent closure of some businesses, especially restaurants, entertainment operations, lodging and retail stores. Since older adults are more likely to run their own businesses, they are disproportionately impacted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 24 percent of American workers 65 years and older are self-employed, while 15 percent of workers 55 to 64 years are self-employed. In comparison, 8 percent of workers under 55 are self-employed.
Joblessness. About 16 percent of Idaho’s 162,000 payroll workers 55 years and over filed new unemployment insurance claims between March 15 and June 13. Some returned to work within a month, but others experienced two or three months of joblessness.
Wages grow with age, but there is a point of diminishing return where retirement may be a better alternative to continuing to work with scant hope for increasingly higher pay. In Idaho for example, cost of living adjustments yielded greater increases for retirees than state workers experienced on their paychecks during the Great Recession.
This depends on the industry, however. There are a number with older leadership and workforce such as utilities, education and agriculture. The mid-life years of 45 to 54 are the peak wage-earning time.
The aging workforce will have an overarching effect on the economy in the years to come, but older workers are feeling the impact now. With the effects of the last recession still lingering, knowing which industries are more apt to hire older workers is critical to today’s job seekers.
Idaho may not be home to hurricanes, but it has certainly experienced a “silver tsunami” – the rapid shift toward an older workforce.
While the state population grew 20 percent between the 2000 and 2010, employment levels for workers age 45 and older grew 34 percent.
Idaho’s labor force has experienced a significant structural change over an extended period – a demographic shift adding nearly 140,000 workers age 45 and older between 1991 and 2012. The population of workers age 25 to 44 increased by only 50,470.
Worker migration data is also uncovering the tsunami’s existence. Interstate unemployment claims in January 2013 revealed nearly 800 claims were made by workers age 65 and older – more claims than all other age groups combined. These interstate claims reflect the number of claims made by individuals who now reside in Idaho but are claiming unemployment benefits for jobs lost in other states.
Sometimes the answer may be simply that there are many applicants to choose from. Remember there are a lot of employers out there and maybe getting an entry level job elsewhere could help you get a job with their perfect employer at a higher level in the future. In the meantime…
Get a Second Opinion on how you present yourself to prospective employers in a résumé, cover letter or in person. Ask an Idaho Department of Labor consultant to review these items and how you can better portray yourself to the employer.
Can YOU Read Your Writing? Was your application legible? Some company hiring managers won’t even consider you if they can’t read your writing. Did you fail to complete your application, explain your strong skills, abilities, and training or education? Did you go to the office on Monday, the busiest day of the week, or at closing time? Try a mock “turn in your application” the exact way you did with the last company you visited, and do it with someone who will give you some feedback. You may discover some issues you haven’t thought of before. Make sure everything is filled in on the application, and if the subject doesn’t pertain, a simple (n/a) is adequate, but don’t leave it blank.
by Alivia Metts, Regional Labor Economist, Northern Idaho
Idaho’s youngest workers – those age 14 to 18 years old – bore the brunt of the downturn while Idaho’s older workers appeared to hold their own according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Turnover among teen workers remained high through the recession although the rate of turnover eased as young workers held on to their jobs as employment openings dwindled.
Workers age 55 and older started retiring at a faster pace through the recession. From 2007 to 2010, more firms lost workers in that age group than in any other.
By every indicator, Idaho’s oldest and youngest workers were more affected by the recession than any other age group. Teenagers in Idaho lost 35 percent of their jobs while the oldest workers managed to find more employment opportunities even as hiring overall slowed dramatically. Continue reading →