Morning Joe | February 05, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." here with us now, writer for "the new york times" --
>> my parents will be so glad.
>> is it rampell?
>> she said she's worried about gray hair. she's like 21.
>> catherine --
>> can you drink?
>> are you trying to kill me?
>> no, i'm sorry. she said she's going gray. she works for t"the new york time times". her latest article looked at the baby boomer struggle. i caught this on sunday.
>> it was really good and it sort of gives a sense of why we're having such a hard time moving out of this. she writes americans in their 50s and early 60s, those near retirement age who do not yet have access to medicare and social security , have lost the most earning power of any age group with their household incomes 10% below what they made when the recovery began three years ago. their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time, just before they needed to cash out. they are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children earning themmy in inauspicious nickname generation squeeze. i know so many people in this situation. there are people who should have been okay.
>> a lot of people think they did everything right. they saved. they improved upon their house. they thought that was the thing to do. they paid down their mortgage but they've lost a lot of their savings as a result, anyway. so there's actually research that suggests that if you lose your job at that very sensitive time in your life, that is sort of in your 50s, early 60s, before you have access to medicare, can actually shorten your life span because you are not having the health care that you need. so, you know, there are a lot of reasons why different generations can lay claim to sort of the bottom of the barrel in this situation. but you can make a pretty compelling argument for why baby boomers have been hit the worst.
>> by the way, look at that average duration of unemployment. for teenagers, 19 weeks. for older people, 53 weeks.
>> and i have a couple of friends, i put myself in that category, who are a little bit older than me who are looking in there and you feel like 20 years older than everybody because they are hiring younger. you are just completely --
>> we're all 20 years older than --
>> it's not what you think of hiring when you bring in a new employee. you think younger.
>> therein lies the problem. somebody that has 20 years of skills but if they come to you and they are 51, 53.
>> incredible value.
>> higher expectations for salaries, or at least when they first become unemployed. a lot of times those demands drop as they rack up 53 weeks of unemployment. they have a shorter career horizon. so some people think this person is going to leave in a coupem of years. why would i invest in training them as opposed to a worker in their 30s or 40s where i could get a couple of decades out of them.
>> what ideas did people have, news you can use for these people? who are the success stories who find themselves in that top position? how do they work out of it?
>> a lot of it has to do with luck, frankly. retraining doesn't seem to be the best route for a lot of older workers just because they don't have the same time horizon in order to get the return on that investment.
>> old dogs new tricks thing, too.
>> to some extent that may be a myth but the fact they are putting out the money to pay for schooling and then they don't have as many years to recoup that investment is a very real thing, regardless of whether you think they can relearn. i think a lot of them can. in terms of success stories, i think a lot of it has to do with luck. has to do with knowing the right people. there are proposals that i've heard for finding some sort of alternate safety net for these people. you know if they are 62, they can get social security benefits. they'll get lower benefits than they would if they waited until full retirement age which is generally around 66. a lot of them are going into this sort of back door social security or unemployment benefit system and going on disability which is not a great solution. once they go on disability, they are basically out of the workforce altogether. and that's become a big budget problem. not so much social security but the disability side.
>> john meacham?
>> what sectors are most affected by this? is this -- are lawyers looking for work? is this more manufacturing? to what extent is the outsourcing driving this?
>> i would say a few different things. so across the economy, less skilled workers in general of all ages have been hit a lot worse than higher skilled people. and that means, you know, people who don't have college degrees. people who have high school diplomas or high school dropouts have the highest unemployment rate of anyone. so less skilled workers in general across all industries. one of the reason yes you see these very long durations of unemployment for older workers, i would say is that older workers are like three have been employed in occupations and industries more permanently downsizing like manufacturing. so those industries, manufacturing companies, for example, have been sort of shrinking by attrition or by layoffs over time and if you get laid off from one of those jobs now, it's very hard to find a replacement job.
>> it's not coming back.
>> it's not coming back. hard to find a jobution those skills. if everyone else is laying off workers as well. so there are certain areas hit worse.
>> we get the unemployment number and this is the story within it which is much tougher. catherine rampell, thanks so much. nice to meet you. come back soon.
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