Impact of Recession on Older Workers and Jobseekers

The real impact of the recession on older workers and jobseekers is revealed in a new survey from TAEN – The Age and Employment Network.

The research compares periods before and after October 2008. The figures for the latter period show that the recession has caused a sharp increase in respondents saying they were made redundant - up to 47 per cent from 32 per cent - in the period between October 2008 - May 2009, as compared to those surveyed before the economy started to deteriorate, January - September 2008.

The number of respondents who said they were desperate to get a job has also risen sharply - from 30 per cent to 39 per cent, indicating deepening financial concerns.

Also rising since the start of the recession are perceptions of ageist attitudes, with 72 per cent of respondents saying that employers see them as ‘too old’ compared with 63 per cent before the recession.

Nearly half (48 per cent) felt they were seen as ‘too experienced’ or ‘over-qualified’ compared with 42 per cent in the previous period.

Similarly, nearly one out of two (45 per cent) did not feel that age discrimination legislation had helped older people find work. This figure rose from 31 per cent prior to the recession.  

Other notable changes include: 

  • Close to half (45 per cent) of respondents had been out of work for between 3 and 12 months - compared with 31 per cent in the previous survey.  
  • An increase in those who felt employers placed too much emphasis on qualifications rather than skills and experience. The already high figure of 60 per cent went up to 64 per cent. 
  • As the economy deteriorated, there was an increase in people in their 50s and a rise in men responding to the survey. 
  • More than half (53 per cent) felt that the quality of job search assistance they received had been ‘not very good or poor’ - up from 46 per cent  
  • There was a striking change in the numbers using private employment agencies - 70 per cent, up from 52 per cent.

Commenting on the survey, Chris Ball, TAEN’s Chief Executive said:

“This makes depressing reading. These shocking figures show the greater barriers the over-50s are facing as the economy has worsened. The resultant crisis in savings, pensions and debt has taken its toll and created a need for many older people to keep on working.

“ We also see here more evidence that, despite the introduction of legislation in 2006 outlawing age discrimination in employment, it has certainly not eradicated discrimination in recruitment – particularly when times are tight and where it is difficult for an individual to prove discrimination and  take action.” 

The findings have been compiled from people who completed TAEN’s online survey.  Data was taken in the earlier period from 370 jobseekers and by a further 401 in the recession period.

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