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Aging face of unemployment

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Posted: 5 pm ET

About 25 percent of the 5 million Americans who have been unemployed for a year or more are between the ages of 55 and 64. Of those, about half have been unemployed for at least two years, and 26 percent haven't worked in three or more years, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and NPR.

If you're in that situation, chances are your retirement planning is either on hold, or you were forced into an early --- and probably financially inadequate -- retirement.

Many of those who have been jobless or without full‐time work for an extended period of time report facing a long list of financial problems:

  • 59 percent have taken money out of retirement funds to pay bills.
  • 53 percent have been contacted by a collection agency.
  • 51 percent have sold their personal belongings.
  • 51 percent have borrowed money from friends and relatives.

Just getting by is a challenge:

  • 47 percent have trouble paying for rent or a mortgage.
  • 44 percent can't afford sufficient food.
  • 33 percent have moved in with friends or relatives.
  • 23 percent have had utilities turned off.
  • 9 percent have lost their homes due to eviction or foreclosure.

As this economic downturn drags on and on, it's hard to even think about what will be the outcome for older people who have been unable to work for a long time. Under the best of circumstances, the long-term unemployed aren't wealthy people. About 54 percent say their last job paid less than $30,000 annually. Only 13 percent are collecting unemployment insurance, so any cutbacks to Medicare, Medicaid and disability would hit them especially hard.

If you were part of our divided Congress, how would you vote to solve the unemployment problem?

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John Q Taxpayer
December 15, 2011 at 10:34 am

I would reduce unemployment payments back to 6 months instead of 99 weeks. I've seen enough people who are unemployed by choice because it's easier to take handouts than to get a job.

December 15, 2011 at 9:58 am

Tax employers who outsource jobs overseas. Use the proceeds to re-educate and retool displaced workers.

December 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

Open more Wal-Marts so we can have more greeters.

"Under the best of circumstances, the long-term unemployed aren't wealthy people."

Really? What makes you think that, the fact that they are UNEMPLOYED in the first place?

Come on, now.