It's hard to find a job in this economy. It's especially harder if you're an older worker. It's harder still if you're older and unemployed. And it's almost impossible if you're older and have been out of work much longer than anyone else.
If you were over 50 years old and were laid off in the Fall of 2008, you were already unemployed for a full year before the unemployment rate peaked in the Fall of 2009. And most of the hiring done since then was for younger or more recently laid off workers.
So if you're 50-something years old or older (and you are still unemployed), and if someone tells you that you haven't tried hard enough to find a job, then tell them to kiss your ass.
From the Washington Post: Long-Term Unemployment is a Catastrophe
Short-term unemployment is actually lower than it was in 2007. If you break down the unemployment rate by duration, the problem appears to be almost entirely about long-term unemployment.
Long-term unemployment leads to an erosion of skills, dissociation from the labor market and other forms of "scarring" that last for many, many years. Brad DeLong and Larry Summers argue convincingly that this and other forms of what economists call "hysteresis" (basically, the long-term damage produced by short-run recessions) could have permanently increased the unemployment rate.
From the Atlantic: The Tragic Trap of Long-Term Unemployment
The nightmarish thing about long term unemployment is that it's self-perpetuating. The more time you're out of work, the less likely employers are to even consider your resume. Because you are unemployed, you stay unemployed.
From the Wall Street Journal: Long-Term Jobless Left Out of the Recovery
A growing body of economic research suggests that the longer they remain on the sidelines, the less likely they will be to work again; for many, it may already be too late. Recent studies found employers often won't even consider the long-term jobless for openings. Many have given up applying. Nearly seven million people say they want a job but aren't actively looking for work.
1.8 million more Americans were receiving federal disability payments than when the recession began. Experts suspect many of the new recipients would have kept working in a healthier economy.
From Think Progress: It’s Not The Fault Of The Long-Term Unemployed That They Can’t Find Jobs
New data shows that [the long-term unemployed] look a lot like other unemployed workers except that they tend to be older, a bit more racially diverse, and actually have more education, which implies that they probably just need a better job market.
Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is that those who have been looking for a job for more than six months are typically much older than those who just lost their jobs. About 15 percent of the long-term unemployed are ages 56 to 65, but just 8 percent of those who have been out of work for under five weeks are that age. The newly unemployed, by contrast, are much younger: more than 40 percent are ages 16 to 25. The struggle for older workers to reenter the job market may be a sign of age discrimination.
The longer someone stays unemployed the harder it is to reenter the workforce. Being unemployed for longer than nine months is the equivalent of losing four years of experience in the eyes of a potential employer. Those who are out of work for six months or longer will find that they get fewer calls back for an interview than those who are currently employed but don’t have the right experience. Some workers report being told outright that a potential employer isn’t interested in those who have been out of a job for a while.
Also from the Atlantic: Who Are the Long-Term Unemployed?
The long-term unemployed tend to be people who 1) are a little bit older, and 2) got laid off from their last job. It seems the stigma of getting laid off puts people near the back of the jobs line. And then, once they've been stuck at the back of that line for six months, the stigma of long-term unemployment keeps them there forever.
The Atlantic: The Terrifying Reality of Long-Term Unemployment
It's an awful catch-22: employers won't hire you if you've been out of work for more than six months.
While older workers are less likely to be laid off than younger workers, they are about half as likely to be rehired. One result is that older workers have seen the largest proportionate increase in unemployment in this downturn. The number of unemployed people between ages 50 and 65 has more than doubled.
The prospects for the re-employment of older workers deteriorate sharply the longer they are unemployed. A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job in the next three months. A worker who is 62 or older and in the same situation has only about a 6 percent chance. As unemployment increases in duration, these slim chances drop steadily.
Economic Populist: Long-Term Unemployed Baby Boomers in 2013 (And those on disability)
Daily Kos: Boomers Die Hard, if Long-Term Unemployed (Suicide rates are up)
AOL: More Than 1 Million Baby Boomers Are Secretly Unemployed (Forced into early Social Security)