Are Baby Boomers Destined for Long Term Unemployment?

Long-Term-UnemploymentAre Baby Boomers Destined for Long Term Unemployment?

Long term unemployment is defined by being unemployed for longer than six months. In working with baby boomers over 50 years old, I tell them that you should expect your job search to take 9-12 months. They often gasp.

A really short job search is three months.

What that says is Baby Boomer are destined for long term unemployment.


If you have been working for 20-30 years like most Baby Boomers, you have attained a certain level of rank in your profession. Maybe you are a manager, senior engineer, VP or Director of Marketing, or some other title that belies your talent and experience.

When the great recession hit, some Baby Boomers who had these titles were laid off. Baby Boomers were less likely to be laid off than other generations but when they were laid off they had difficulty finding new jobs.

This was due to the fact there are fewer senior level positions in total in the workforce. There are just a whole lot more $30K  versus $100K jobs!

Senior level positions like other positions become available for two reasons:

  • New positions are created by growing businesses
  • Vacancies are created when employees leave

When the great recession hit what stopped happening?

  • Businesses were shrinking and not growing
  • Employees stopped looking to change jobs and hunkered down in their current positions.

There was nowhere to go!

What happens after six months of unemployment

In 2006, I left teaching high school math after two years. I immediately picked up a contract training position that ended suddenly after two months. I then went through eight dreadful months of unemployment.

I was in good shape. The high tech startup that I worked for through the dot com bust left my family debt free. I was in my mid 40’s, son was off to college (fully funded), debt free and I went off to teach high school math. When I left teaching after two years I was lost.

I can only imagine if I needed a full time job immediately to make ends meet.

I got depressed.

I questioned my value in the work place.

Would I ever work again?

Sound familiar?

When you are in this state of mind, how do you come across in interviews? You are not the top candidate.

That rejection furthers the spiral.

What I chose to do was aggressively pursue a fund raising position in a non-profit.

I made it my job to get that job!

My wife never saw me work so hard. It gave me purpose.

What starts happening after six months of unemployment is many no longer have a purpose. Some will start losing hope. After twelve months many will start to get desperate.

Long term unemployment can be emotionally destructive.

Is this you? Is this a family member or friend?

My next post will be what you can do to help the long term unemployed.


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Check out my new book!

Repurpose Your Career by Marc Miller and Susan Lahey

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You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist


  1. […] I know, I know you have to have full time employment for the benefits. That is a myth. My wife and I are both in our late 50′s, and we pay about $700 per month for high deductible health insurance. My wife’s coverage comes the State of Texas High Risk Pool. A state run health plan where she cannot be rejected. I know, I know you need group coverage. Group coverage is the most expensive kind of health insurance and if you received a W2 from last year, you will see what you employer spent. It is a lot! What we save in one year from having to pay COBRA covers the deductible. We just have to stay out of the hospital for a year. Start thinking seriously about working for yourself. Keep looking for a job but consider contracting, temp work and preparing to start a business. (More: Are Baby Boomers Destined for Long Term Unemployment?) […]

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