(NEW YORK) — For those aged 55 or older, the job hunt has proven especially tough. According to AARP’s Public Policy Institute, older workers who lose their jobs are likely to be out of work longer than any other group. The latest numbers show the average time of unemployment for the 55-plus crowd is a whopping 60 weeks. That compares with 38.5 weeks for those under age 55.
The Institute says that 60 weeks of unemployment is the highest recorded, and possibly the highest ever for that age group.
The unemployment rate for those 55 and older in April was 6.3 percent, a good deal lower than the overall jobless rate, which fell to 8.1 percent. But that’s up from 3.2 percent at the beginning of the recession in December 2007. That’s a 97 percent increase, the largest of any age group. Traditionally older workers have had a lower unemployment rate, according to Sara Rix, a senior Strategic Policy Advisor with the AARP’s Public Policy Institute.
“Once those older workers are out of work, they’re not getting back in,” said Rix. “Older workers are more likely to drop out of the labor force.”
“Workers have all suffered since the beginning of the recession; they’ve dipped into their 401(k)’s, taken loans or borrowed. It’s not good for anybody,” said Rix. “But younger workers have a longer period of time to recover. Older workers, if they’re lucky enough to find work, are not going to be able to recover as easily.”
The numbers don’t surprise Tom Sachse of Memphis, Tenn. He’s in that 55-plus group and has been looking for work since September. A former sales manager, Sachse believes “it’s about ten times harder for a good-performing older person to get a job than a young one.”
“We have to work to pay the bills,” said Sachse, “and it feels as though the world has dumped us.”
Sachse remains hopeful though. He’s still pounding the pavement and has had some nibbles.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susie East, CNN
Aaron Smith, CNN Newswire
David Goldman, CNN
Jethro Mullen Ivana Kottasova and Patrick Gillespie, CNN