Hot Topics: November Jobless Rate Falls
Midcareer workers got an early holiday present: more jobs. The unemployment rate for people 45 and older dropped to 6.3 percent in November, the lowest since December 2008, according to a government labor report released today.
Overall U.S. unemployment dipped to 8.6 percent last month, the lowest level in more than two years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate has hovered around 9 percent for most of 2011, and economists had not expected such a substantial drop. Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics says the reversal suggests hiring will continue to improve. "Something good is stirring in the U.S. economy," Shepherdson writes in a note to clients.
The news isn't all rosy. The nation's jobless rate fell in part because more people dropped out of the work force, and the unemployment rate only counts people looking for work. For the more than 13 million unemployed Americans, the average time it takes to find a new job is now 40.9 weeks, an all-time high, according to a New York Times report.
In November, private employers added 140,000 jobs, and government agencies cut 20,000 positions, for a net gain of 120,000 positions. New jobs came mainly in service industries such as retail, health care, restaurants, hotels and professional services, according to the labor bureau.
Despite the lower jobless rate for people 45 and older, the percent of older employees in the work force -- what the government calls the labor force participation rate -- fell slightly in November to 54.8 percent. That is close to the lowest participation rate in 2011 and is lower than the rate has been since 2006.
The Real Holiday Headlines: This week's start of the holiday shopping season wasn't all pepper spray and crashing internet servers. While some people clogged the aisles -- both physical and virtual -- in crass displays of consumerism, the Women at Forty website points out others who remember the true reason for the season. Site editor Grace Winter notes that a still-recovering Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford served turkey dinners to military vets; an 11-year-old Washington boy saved his mother from an attacker; and a teenager pulled a man out of a burning truck.
Older Workers Are Committed: People in their 40s and older are the most engaged and committed to their employers, and people in their 50s and older are the most satisfied with their jobs, according to a new study. The Generations of Talent study, from Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging and Work, polled 11,298 employees from seven companies at 24 locations in 11 countries. "Contrary to popular opinion, older workers are the most engaged, and forward-thinking companies need to begin strategizing about how to capitalize on this asset," says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, the center's director.
Forbes' Top Social Entrepreneurs: Forbes, known for publishing annual compilations of the world's richest people and top women leaders, has unveiled its first-ever list of leading social entrepreneurs. The Impact 30 list is top-heavy with game-changers in their 40s and 50s who have used business skills to solve social problems. They include: William Foote, founder of a Cambridge, Mass., financial institution that's made $230 million in loans to farmers in poor countries; Linda Rottenberg, who created the Endeavor network to connect entrepreneurs in developing countries with international mentors; and Jill Vialet, founder of Playworks, which places recess "coaches" -- often from AmeriCorps -- into elementary schools.
Drug Tester Goes After Older Athletes: The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has suspended nine master-level athletes this year for testing positive for banned substances, according to an Associated Press report. Masters athletes who tested positive included one competitor in his 50s and three in their 60s. Three athletes were suspended from USA Track and Field's masters national championships after disputed tests for taking tainted supplements. "We get calls from athletes about doping that's happening in their sports at all levels," says agency CEO Travis Tygart. "We've also had event organizers call us and express their concerns and their desire to put in a good anti-doping program."
Julia Roberts Goes to Work: The Hollywood Reporter reports that the Academy Award-winning actress is set to produce and star in a comedy about a woman forced to work for the first time called, appropriately enough, Second Act.
Elvis Costello Tells Fans NOT to Buy His Boxed Set: The venerable New Wave pioneer, who's evolved over the years into a genre-hopping virtuoso and host of the Sundance Channel's live music series Spectacle, has never been afraid to stir things up a little. Now, in a message on his website, the 57-year-old singer urges his fans to pass on his soon-to-be released boxed set, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, which is being sold for $262.53 on Amazon.com. Costello complains that after failing in attempts to get his record company to reduce the price, he's recommending instead that fans buy Ambassador of Jazz, a more affordable $150 boxed set of recordings by Louis Armstrong. (Both records are put out by labels owned by Universal Music Group.) "Frankly, the music is vastly superior," Costello opines.
Last Word: "Every generation has believed that their children will have a better life. But people come up to me now and say they're worried their children won't. That's the first time I've heard that in 50 years as a journalist." -- Tom Brokaw, speaking this week in Portland, Ore., about his new book, The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America
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