May 5, 2011
Toll High When Layoffs Hit After 50
The financial impact on older people who find themselves out of work goes far beyond the missed paychecks: it upsets well-laid plans for retirement.
Stan Bednarczyk, an engineer who was laid off in 2009 by a Michigan automobile supplier, has numerous concerns. He can no longer contribute to the retirement account sponsored by his former employer. And since Social Security is based on an individual’s 35 highest years of earnings, his future benefit may be lower when he retires.
The total dollar cost of his late-career joblessness, which he detailed in this video, is shocking.
Bednarczyk was among 100 unemployed men and women interviewed for a powerful new video project, “Over 50 and Out of Work,” by New York journalists Susan Sipprelle, Samuel Newman, and Nikolia Apostolou.
The journalists are compiling the videos for a documentary, but agreed to let Squared Away feature a few of them to highlight the particular issues facing those who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, just as they are approaching retirement.
“Over 50 and Out of Work” interviewed a variety of people from all over the country: black and white, professionals and skilled tradesmen, men and women. All have one thing in common. Although the economy is recovering, it takes older people much longer to find employment than their younger competitors in the job market. The number of unemployed Americans over age 55 declined just 3.6 percent between March 2010 and March 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Contrast that to the 17.2 percent drop for ages 35 to 44.
Many may never make up their lost wages and health and pension benefits – if they can find a job at all.
Bednarczyk was particularly excited when he found one job opening that fit his qualifications perfectly. The people who interviewed him agreed, but he didn’t get an offer and feels that potential employers have misperceptions about his age, which he said is “between 55 and 65.”
“I feel like I have five to 10 years to give” to an employer, he said. “The basic scientific principles I learned in college are applicable today.”
To watch other interviews in “Over 50 and Out of Work,” click here.