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Job Gains by Demographics

Human Resource Executive (05/21/12) Michael O’Brien

Recent jobs-report figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show that workers aged 55 years and older may be making a better argument for their employment than their slightly younger competitors. According to DOL’s March 2012 figures, those older workers gained 2.8 million jobs since March 2010, compared to a net job loss of 258,000 for workers between the ages of 45 and 54 during that same time period.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says such figures should not come as a surprise. “The 55-plus population is expanding rapidly and, whether by choice or by necessity, many of these older workers plan on working beyond the traditional retirement age of 65,” he notes. Though some of these older workers are continuing in the occupations and industries where they spent most of their careers, many others are starting entirely new career paths. “Because they may be more willing to work fewer hours or accept lower pay in exchange for better health benefits,” Challenger says, “employers are welcoming these older job seekers.”

Despite the advantages that many older workers offer to employers, Challenger says the labor market is more positive for recent college graduates than in the past few years. “Each year, we continue to see improvement in the college-graduate job market,” he says. “Last year was slightly better than 2010, and this year should be slightly better than 2011.”