The Big Story Blog

The struggles of older workers and the job market

Posted at 2:43 PM on December 2, 2011 by Paul Tosto

The numbers of workers age 55 and older are relatively small. But the hit they've taken in the Great Recession has been huge.

MPR News reporter Annie Baxter brought those concerns to light in a story earlier this week.

In Minnesota, we we have good data to show how tough it's been for those seasoned Minnesotans during the Great Recession. And it's not pretty: Minnesotans 55 and older have seen unemployment among their peers double since 2007.

Earlier this year we blogged on these numbers compiled by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (click on the chart for a larger view).


Seventeen thousand Minnesotans 55 and older were unemployed on average in 2007 just before the Great Recession.

Last year it hit 34,000. Most of those job cuts came to people 55 to 64 years old.

The data are fascinating. In the good economic years leading up to the Great Recession, the 55 and older labor force swelled in Minnesota and jobless rates for those workers were incredibly low -- averaging just 1.8 percent in 2005 for those 55 to 64.

By 2010, however, the jobless rate for that age group was 6.1 percent.

Yes, the jobless rates of older workers were lower compared to other age groups. (Click on the chart for larger view)

But as we noted in the spring, these are Minnesotans who, for the most part, had a limited number of prime income earning years remaining before retirement.

BONUS: Click on the play button to hear Annie Baxter's MPR News story: Older workers struggle to regain position in workforce

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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