Hot Topics: Boomer Unemployment Drops to 2-Year Low
Good news for older workers: The jobless rate for people over 45 continues to fall, even as the nation's overall unemployment rate rose slightly in April to 9 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today.
The country's private-sector employers added 244,000 new jobs in April, the third straight month of employment growth. Economists attributed the slight uptick to more people who had previously been laid off starting to look for work now that the economy is improving, according to news reports.
The picture is even better for older workers. During April, the unemployment rate for all workers over 45 fell to 6.6 percent from 7.2 percent in March and the same number a year ago. It's the lowest jobless rate for the age group since May 2009, the labor bureau reports.
The unemployment rate for people over 55 fell to 6.2 percent in April, from 6.7 percent the previous month, and is also the lowest it's been in two years.
For people over 65 in the workforce, the unemployment rate dipped under 6 percent for the first time since November 2009. In April, the jobless rate was 5.8 percent, dropping from 6.4 percent the previous month.
With employers adding so many new jobs, it's no surprise that listings on online job boards are on the rise. At online job board Indeed, 10 of 13 industries had more jobs listed in April than in any other month in 2011. Last month, transportation job listings rose 25 percent, health-care positions 21 percent, manufacturing 21 percent, and retail 16 percent, according to a report posted on the online job board's blog. Real estate, the only industry to show a decline, saw listings drop 17 percent.
As the economy improves, the need for experienced professionals is greater than ever, says John Fulcher, director of MRINetwork's Bauer Consulting Group Inc., an El Paso, Texas, health-care recruiter. "We are seeing the need for more seasoned professionals who require less ramp-up time and are able to make a larger impact in a shorter amount of time."
Your Vote Counts: For the first time, people over 45 make up the majority of U.S. voters, according to an Associated Press report based on the latest available government statistics. As the country's biggest voting block, older Americans will have wider influence on issues such as Social Security, Medicare and other benefits for older Americans, according to the report. "The center of American politics gets older," E. Mark Braden, a former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee turned political advisor, told the wire service. "Given the current fiscal concerns, it's going to be a test case whether Republicans or Democrats can talk about entitlement reform without getting killed" politically.
How to Help Tornado Victims: Taylor Swift is opening up a dress rehearsal to fans to raise money, and local Alabama bands are hosting their own fundraisers to aid victims of the recent tornadoes that killed at least 329 people and left thousands more homeless across the South. But you don't have to be a country singer to help with what's being called the worst tornado strikes since the 1930s. The website Good has created this list of organizations collecting money and other donations, including the American Red Cross, United Way of West Alabama, The Salvation Army and others.
What We're Watching: NCIS is America's favorite TV show, according to the latest Harris Interactive poll, which puts the Mark Harmon-led military whodunit at the top of the TV entertainment heap. The show beat out CSI, M*A*S*H and Two and a Half Men as viewers' all-time favorite TV show, and scored highest with baby boomers and people over 66. Maybe the show's so popular because we secretly crave Harmon's Agent Gibbs character's "moral and emotional tutelage," SecondAct's Patrick J. Kiger writes. Or maybe it's his steel gray hair and crystal blue eyes.
Dancing Their Way Into a Next Act: To Southern California writer Kathy Sena, BadBallet isn't a blog, it's a movement. The online group for women over 40 stepping into the next stage of life, "no tutu required," meets online on Facebook and Twitter and at face-to-face get-togethers. To date, one "Bad Ballerina" guest blogger has discussed getting married for the first time at 51, and another writes about going to her first-ever play audition and discovering her inner ham. "We're not all at the same stage in our lives, so we all gain even more by knowing each other," Sena says. Her favorite group member: Jean Pyatt, 82, who's been a college-level dance instructor, pilot and accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
Inspiring Career Makeover: Paula Lopez Crespin, 51, gave up a banking career in 2009 and took a $32,000 pay cut to be a Teach for America recruit. She is featured in this week's Encore Careers newsletter from Civic Ventures. "When I was 35 and really at the peak of when my own kids needed me most," Crespin says. "I don't think I could have done it, not in the same way I can do it now. I'm in the right place in my life. I'm an empty-nester. I don't cook like I used to. My house isn't spotlessly clean like it used to be. But I can do this kind of work right now."
Last word: "Compassion could be the new black." -- Steven Tyler, Aerosmith rocker, American Idol judge and author of a new memoir -- Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? -- released this week.
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