Gawking at the Underclass
Although most MSM outlets are talking up how well the economy is doing, and how people are buying stuff again, I have several bright friends still looking for work. Yesterday, I read in the NY Times that unemployment is supposed to be worst in the boomer age group. I’m on the cusp between leading-edge and late boomers. Two of my underemployed friends are the same age, one is several years younger. It seems to me that the job market sucks in every age group, but the chances of getting hired is worse the older you get.
In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.
These 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 earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.
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 them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”
I’m not supporting the folks yet. One stepson does live with us, but he mostly supports himself and more than earns his keep. I’m glad the kids don’t have to support us:
“When you’re older, they just see gray hair and they write you off,” said Arynita Armstrong, 60, of Willis, Tex. She has been looking for work for five years since losing her job at a mortgage company. “They’re afraid to hire you, because they think you’re a health risk. You know, you might make their premiums go up. They think it’ll cost more money to invest in training you than it’s worth it because you might retire in five years.
“Not that they say any of this to your face,” she added.
It is strange to cite Gawker for real stories about the economy, but I ran across their Hello From The Underclass series, which is worth reading for anyone that thinks we’re out of the hard times:
Near-suicidal despair. That is what many Americans have earned from this recession. Yesterday, we asked for stories from those of you who are or have been unemployed. We’ve been flooded with responses. Today, ten stories from economy’s bad side.
Unemployment in America touches young and old, educated and uneducated, poor and privileged, men and women. We heard from all of them. This first batch of ten stories (there will be more) represents a mere cross-section of the unemployed. They are lengthy, but worth your time. This is not a contest for most heartstring-tugging tale, nor an invitation for judgment. This is just what’s happening out there.