Over 55 and jobless, Americans face tough hunt

Tue May 15, 2012 3:46pm EDT
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By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jean Coyle, 67, has a new kind of ministry.

The former professor had just begun a career as a Presbyterian minister in Virginia when the economic downturn forced her church to let her go in 2007. After that, she found only temporary work.

She relied on savings while job hunting, but at 64, had to dip into her Social Security benefits. She officially retired in 2010. For spending money, she plans to start teaching a water aerobics class to earn $40 a week.

"I'm not going to get wealthy on that," she said. "It's not really the ministry I expected to have."

Coyle is among the many unemployed, older Americans who, while struggling to reenter the workforce, have growing worries that their retirement security is at risk.

The number of long-term unemployed workers aged 55 and older has more than doubled since the recession began in late 2007. Getting back to work is increasingly difficult, according to a government report being released on Tuesday.

For unemployed seniors, the chances of reentering the workforce are grim.

Experts worry that unemployed seniors face a long-term threat as the impact of lost wages compounds.   Continued...

Jobseekers stand in line to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State department of Labor in New York April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson