Hot Topics: Jobless Rate Dips; Older Workers Fare Best
U.S. unemployment edged downward slightly in April, to 8.1 percent, but only because more workers dropped out of the labor force, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released today. Private employers added 130,000 jobs during the month, but new positions were offset by the loss of 15,000 government jobs.
The job report was weaker than expected, dinging stock prices early today. But economists and other analysts generally were upbeat, especially because the labor bureau also revised previously released payroll numbers for February and March to show an additional 53,000 new jobs had been added those months. "We're still growing, just gradually," Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight, tells MSNBC.
Good news for midlife and older workers. In April, the jobless rate for men and women over 45 dropped to 6 percent from 6.5 percent the previous month. The unemployment rate for older workers is now the lowest it's been since December 2008.
Disappointing month for young people. Employers haven't been hiring younger workers as quickly as economists predicted. In April, the jobless rate for 16- to 24-year-olds was 15.4 percent, down slightly from previous months but still higher than before the recession, according to the labor bureau.
More people working longer. The monthly jobs news also offers the latest indicator that Americans are staying in the work force longer and postponing retirement. In April, the number of people 45 and over in the work force rose by 39,000, to 63.2 million, the highest level since at least 2002.
A recent Social Security Administration report underscores just how important the extra income has become to older Americans. Close to half of 65- to 69-year-olds earn some kind of income, either from wages and salaries or through self-employment, according to results from a 2010 survey of 12.1 million couples and 17.5 million individuals that the administration released in March.
[Related: Top 10 Reasons People Postpone Retirement]
In other news:
Sprinting to a New Job: Could you land a job in two weeks? As impossible as it sounds, it can happen, and not just for people who luck into a new position or have a hot skill, says Harry Urschel, an Eden Prairie, Minn., job hunting coach who spent 23 years as an executive recruiter. Years of experience helped Urschel identify people he calls "sprinters." These folks get hired quickly by taking a different approach to their job search, he writes in this post at The Wise Job Search. Sprinters use personal contacts instead of job boards or ads, maintain an exceptionally professional appearance and attitude, spend more than the average amount of time on their search, and are extremely determined. "Unfortunately, the reality for most job seekers is that they are not willing to put in the kind of effort or work at presenting themselves in the best possible light," he says.
The High Cost of Caregiving: Don't underestimate the economic impact of caring for an aging or sick loved one. Workers who have to leave their jobs to take care of a relative lose an average $325,000 in lifetime income, Cheryl Matheis, AARP's senior vice president for policy, says in this NPR interview. That includes lost wages, Social Security and pension funds. "The average caregiver is 49 years old. That's somebody who's been in the work force for a while and knows a lot about the organization and has a lot of skills that are hard for an employer to replace," she says.
The Battle of the Ages: Your movie pick this weekend depends on which demographic you fall into -- at least thats what Hollywood expects. For comic book and Joss Whedon fans, there's The Avengers, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer director's much-anticipated action spectacle based on classic Stan Lee comic book characters Captain America, the Hulk, Thor and Iron Man. For audiences who could care less about superheroes, there's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a much quieter story of a disparate group of British expats who "outsource" their retirement by moving to India. What's your choice? (BTW, Marigold Hotel producer Fox Searchlight is co-sponsoring The Marigold Ideas for Good contest to award 30 grants of $5,000 to people over 50 who create organizations that improve their communities.)
Triathlons Saved His Life: Five years ago, Steve Howard weighed 300 pounds and had Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a BMI of 36.5 that pegged him as drastically obese. A routine check-up so he could renew his life insurance policy turned into the wake-up call that the Lafayette, La., mechanical engineer used to change his diet and his life. That Thanksgiving, he traded turkey and pumpkin pie for a green salad and a walk around the block, Howard recounts in this post on the TrainingPeaks blog. He took up biking, turned the walk into a run and started competing in triathlons, eventually working his way up to Iron Man distances. Today, the 59-year-old weighs 175 and has seen his BMI drop to an acceptable 21.3. Howard credits his triathlon training for making the difference. "The ironic thing is that with our new diet and active lifestyle, my wife Debbie and I are having the time of our lives," he writes. "I now have what seems like endless energy and am more productive professionally. The doctors tell me my athletic capabilities won't peak until age 65 due to my late start at athletic training. And I used to think my active life was over when I hit my mid-50s!"
Apple Co-founder Channeled His Inner Willy Wonka: Steve Jobs wanted to celebrate a major milestone in sales of the original iMac by hiding a golden certificate inside the box of the millionth machine and building a publicity campaign around it, according to Ken Segall's newly released biography of Jobs, Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success. Jobs, who died in October, imagined the winner redeeming the ticket for a trip to Cupertino to tour the company's headquarters, the same way Charlie did in the Willy Wonka book and movies. Jobs even planned to dress up like Wonka, according to Segall. California sweepstakes contests laws, however, put the kibosh on the scheme.
Beastie Boys Rapper MCA Dead at 47: Adam Yauch, one-third of the ground-breaking rap trio, died today in New York after battling cancer since 2009, according to the Los Angeles Times and entertainment industry news sites. Yauch, who performed as "MCA," co-founded the group with Mike D and Ad Rock in 1979, and created some of the most iconic albums in hip-hop, including License to Ill and Check Your Head. The group won multiple Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. Yauch had declared himself "disease free" in 2011, but speculation about the state of his health resurfaced recently after he skipped the hall of fame induction ceremony last month due to an undisclosed illness, according to EOnline.
Last Word: "I've never had so much fun. I would say this is the most meaningful and satisfying thing I've ever done." -- foundation chief Ron D. Cordes on his second-act foray into impact investing
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