The economy might be slowing but numbers show that the demand for the mature worker has not been impacted as much as you may think. The number of workers 50 or older are growing while those 45 or younger in the workforce are declining. The myth is workers who are 50 or older who have lost their jobs are finding it more difficult to find employment but the reality is that those workers are winning new jobs at the same length of time as their young less experienced counterparts. Mature workers are viewed as being work-tested and experienced.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported “employment among mature workers grew by 3.7 percent from July 2007 to July 2008 while the workers ages 20 to 44 declined by an average of 1.3 percent during the same period.” Congress has defined the mature worker as 45 or older. Where does that put you?
This new information dispels the long standing myth that mature workers have an even more difficult time securing employment in a down economy. It has been suggested that companies are relying even more heavily on the experienced workers in this down economy placing a premium on knowledge and less on having to payout the increased salary and benefits. Beyond the technical skills, employers are putting a premium on the soft skills, work ethic and business acumen that most mature workers have developed.
More good news is that the BLS data show that the biggest employment gains for the mature worker occurred within management, professional and related occupations. The numbers show that mature workers secured 659,000 new positions over the last 12 months.
The baby boomers age segment has been increasing with the number of Americans 55 or older by 2.7% over that last 12 months. This compared to those under 45 whose employment growth is at 3.7%. A Challenger quarterly survey reported, “The median length of job search for the mature worker 50 or older was about 4.2 months, compared to younger job seekers at 3.6 months.” Only two week’s differential.
The demand for older workers is particularly high in sectors that continue to experience growth despite the current economic conditions. Most companies are reviewing the next few quarters and identifying their labor shortfalls. Companies are looking to delay the exodus of retirees from their ranks. Mature workers are having an increased concern on their ability to retire in the short term. The AARP and other groups are reported in recent surveys that about 20% of retirees are delaying retirement due to the economic downturn.
Even with the downturn some close to retirement are looking forward to new careers or start their own consulting firms. The Economic Policy Institute reports that 43 percent of workers switch jobs after age 50 and 27 percent change occupations. Mature workers are looking to their next career to be meaningful and impact the community or society. The mature workers are most welcome in the healthcare, teaching, consulting or small business sectors.
The good news is opportunities for the mature worker are widening as has not been the case in the past. If you are in career transition you have more career choices than ever before; it is now up to you to expand your vision of desire.
This was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services for ACS Careers, former employee with the AARP Foundation working on mature worker issues and a certified Life/Career Coach.