Thesis Abstract and Poster

Unemployed Over 55:

The Emerging Policy Threat of Jobless Older Workers in America

Author: Cristy Dwyer, Masters Candidate in Social Policy,

Faculty Research Advisor: Roxana Toma, Ph.D.

State University of New York – Empire State College


 With the onset of the Great Recession in 2007 more than 8 million jobs in America have ceased to exist. Amid this bleak employment picture long-term unemployment among older workers between the ages of 55 and 64 has more than doubled from 2.8% in 2007 to 6.8% percent in 2011.  Without social policies aimed at ensuring older workers’ rights to find meaningful employment based on their skills and abilities today, society will undoubtedly be held accountable to support their living and healthcare expenses tomorrow.

This poster describes proposed research to analyze and compare the effects of long-term unemployment on older workers. Through a narrative analysis based on secondary data collected by the media project Over 50 and Out of Work’s – 100 Stories, it will examine the bio-psychosocial effects of unemployment through a qualitative lens while also producing two quantitative analyses based on secondary empirical data from (a) the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey 2011 and (b) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  Both quantitative analyses will use SPSS and an individual unit of analysis to determine (a) the primary correlates of unemployment and (b) the primary correlates of substance abuse as it relates to length of unemployment among jobless older workers.

The expectation is that this study will serve to provide policymakers and stakeholders with new perspectives on how best to minimize the impacts of long-term unemployment on affected individuals and society as a whole.

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