Older White Men Take Big Hit From Recession

Middle-aged workers hurt as unemployment hits 70-year high
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2009 9:40 AM CDT
Richard Howard of Omaha, unemployed, uses a computer to search for jobs at the Workforce Development office in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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(Newser) – Typically it’s the young who lose their jobs in a recession, but not in the current slowdown. Aging white workers at the theoretical peak of their earning power are losing their jobs this time around—and they can’t find new ones, USA Today reports. The jobless rate for white men over age 55 is at its highest level since the Great Depression, hitting a record 6.5% in the second quarter.

Older black men are facing even higher unemployment—a whopping 10.5%—but that's a full point below the metric's 1983 peak. That means the racial gap is shrinking, but purely because whites are doing worse. “This recession has gone far deeper into layers of society than we've seen in the past,” says one economist. “The bloodletting has been in parts of the economy where men work.”