More Utah seniors finding work

In Nov. 2012, Utah's unemployment rate for people over age 55 was 4.6 percent. In Nov. 2013, it had fallen to 2.9 percent. Photo courtesy AARP Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY – There is positive news on the employment front for at least one group of Utahns: the senior community.

The state Department of Workforce Services reports that November’s 2.9 percent unemployment rate for people ages 55 and older is down two-tenths of a point from October. The rate is down from 4.6 percent in November a year ago.

Laura Polacheck, communications director at AARP Utah, said employers gain a lot from hiring older workers.

“They have a lot of experience dealing with colleagues, and completing work on time and making sure their performance is at a peak level,” she said. “Because of years in the workforce, they appreciate what it’s like to contribute to a job and do well.”

According to AARP, the national jobless rate among those 55 and older in November was just under 5 percent. That reflects a drop of one-half of 1 percent from the previous month, and is reported to be the lowest jobless rate for seniors in the past five years. In real numbers, it means more than 200,000 people were added to the workforce in November.

Polacheck said many older Americans are heading back to work after losing some or all of their retirement nest eggs during the Great Recession.

“People who had investments and were relying on them for their retirement may be very disappointed because those assets have gone very far down,” she said. “Of course, if they leave the workforce, they don’t have employment income coming in, so they have to go back into the workforce.”

AARP has a program called “Life Reinvented” to help older workers develop new skills and new career paths based on their background and interests.

The overall unemployment rate for November was 7 percent nationally and 4.3 percent in Utah.

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