Recession hit older tech workers harder, labor data shows
Older women in computer, math jobs face unemployment rates near 10%
Computerworld - Unemployment rates for older IT workers increased during the recession faster than they did for younger employees, according to new U.S. government labor data obtained by Computerworld. But that's something that Maribeth McIntyre, an IT professional with some 30 years of experience, already suspected.
McIntyre was laid off from her job of seven years in early 2007 at age 55. Until that layoff, finding a job had "always been as easy it can be," so she hit the then still-growing pre-recession IT job market to look for a new job in her area of expertise: as a business system analyst and project manager specializing in HR and payroll applications.
In 2007, McIntyre said she had two or three phone interviews a week and many in-person interviews that were often enthusiastic and seemingly successful. But it was eight months before she landed a consulting job. "I was beginning to suspect it was an age problem," she said.
What is certain is that unemployment for people 55 years and older has become a problem, especially during the past two years. In the U.S. government's "computer and mathematical occupations" category, the overall unemployment rate jumped from 6% to 8.4% from 2009 to 2010, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For women 55 and older, the unemployment rate hit 9.4%. For men in that age group, it was 8%.
Meanwhile, unemployment declined for workers in that category who were between 25 and 54, dropping from 5.1% in 2009 to 4.5% in 2010 (see chart below).
The recession ended McIntyre's consulting job, so she found contract work for a few months in 2009 and last year landed a six-month contract gig that recently ended.
McIntyre, who keeps an online journal on the Daily Kos Web site (under the name Embee), had noticed other older workers talking about the problem of finding work. Seeing a trend, she started an online forum called the "50+ and Unemployed (Underemployed) Support Group" this month and got lots of positive feedback about the endeavor.
McIntyre said the forum is for sharing ideas and venting, because "after a while, your friends don't want to hear it anymore," she said with a laugh.
Although the labor data confirmed what McIntyre believed to be the case about the labor market, it didn't stop her from calling the unemployment numbers for older workers "scary." Story continues on next page
U.S. unemployment rates
|25-54 yrs.||55+ yrs.||All 16+|
|All computer & math||5.1||4.5||6.0||8.4||5.2||5.2|
|Architecture & engineering||6.2||5.2||9.9||9.4||6.9||6.2|
|Life, physical, social science||4.3||4.2||4.0||5.5||4.5||4.6|
|Community & social service||3.8||4.7||4.3||2.9||4.3||4.6|
|Education, training, library||3.8||4.1||3.7||3.6||4.1||4.2|
|Arts, entertainment, sports, media||8.0||8.1||7.4||8.4||8.4||8.9|
|Male computer & math||5.1||4.3||4.9||8.0||5.1||5.1|
|Female computer & math||5.2||5.1||8.9||9.4||5.7||5.7|
- 2014 IT Workplace Trends and Salary Guide Staying competitive in the IT market can be challenging. This guide provides you with insight into variety of IT workplace trends including, U.S....
- Big Data, Big Mess: Sound Risk Intelligence Through Complete Context This paper examines the insecurity of the small businesses in the supply chain and offers tips to close those backdoors into the enterprise.
- Using Cyber Insurance and Cybercrime Data to Limit Your Business Risk This paper examines the challenges of understanding cyber risks, the importance of having the right cyber risk intelligence, and how to use this...
- 5 Tips to Secure Small Business Backdoors in the Enterprise Supply Chain This paper examines the insecurity of the small businesses in the supply chain and offers tips to close those backdoors into the enterprise.
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope... All IT Careers White Papers | Webcasts
Our 28th annual survey results show which IT skills are in high demand and which are cooling off. Also, see how your salary stacks up to peers' with our Smart Salary Tool.