x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

US malady of too young to retire, too old to hire

One of the more overlooked and shocking statistics of the US recession is that 20 per cent of the unemployed are graduates. Many have been out of work for more than a year.

NEW YORK // When Susan Matlow was made redundant in December 2008 from her job as a senior international tax counsellor at American Express in New York, she found her 15 years as a lawyer and economics degree from the Wharton School were not enough to land her a new job.

"The job market was very tight and continues to be for people of my seniority and type of work," Ms Matlow says.

To save cash, she resorted to subletting her apartment and moved in with her 95-year-old grandmother. With working opportunities limited, Ms Matlow has since set up her own successful business helping elderly people deal with financial planning. She has been one of the lucky ones.

It is often mentioned that the official 9.6 per cent US unemployment rate does not include the rapidly growing number of people who can only find part-time work or who have stopped looking for a job altogether.

Yet one of the more overlooked and shocking statistics of the US recession is that 20 per cent of the unemployed are graduates. Many have been out of work for more than a year.

These people are not just in depressed industrial areas such as Michigan, they are living in supposed growth engines of the country such as New York and Silicon Valley.

The CBS television show 60 Minutes recently profiled people living in San Jose in Silicon Valley who, like 1.5 million nationwide, have already received the maximum of 99 weeks of federal unemployment benefit and still have no work.

One woman, formerly a financial analyst, has been unemployed for two years, lost her home and is living in the attic room of a friend.

A man, a former fibre-optics engineering manager, was pleased to have just landed a part-time job as a shop assistant.

Many long-term unemployed professionals across the county are in their 40s, 50s and 60s - too young to retire, yet considered too old to hire by many employers.

These people face a bleak future. Having spent their retirement savings, they are unlikely to recover their losses even when the job market does start to improve. And for all the long-term unemployed in the US, that recovery still looks a long way off.

business@thenational.ae