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Recession hit older tech workers harder, labor data shows

Patrick Thibodeau and Sharon Machlis | Jan. 27, 2011
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.

While the mobile realm favors the young, "cloud and healthcare may be favoring older and more seasoned workers," said Thibodeaux.

The age issue is likely to gain importance because of the sheer size of the baby boom generation -- people born between 1946 and 1964, who make up more than 25% of the U.S. population and a substantial segment of the IT workforce. The federal government reports that people between 45 and 63 years of age accounted for 60% of its IT workforce in 2008, according to a federal study last year.

Farrokh Hormozi, a professor of economics and public administration at Pace University in New York, said the unemployment rates for older workers are what he would have expected.

"Older people have less opportunity to get back to the job market than younger people," said Hormozi, who tracks IT employment in the New York region as co-investigator of the Pace SkillProof IT Index.

The only time when older people could go into the job market and readily find work was during the boom years of the mid-1990s leading up to 2000, he said. "If you discount those years, the labor market has not been acting unexpectedly," said Hormozi.

"I hate to say it is human nature," said Hormozi, but "you always want to give an opportunity to younger people."

 

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