Employers added 678,000 in February 2022, a 41% increase over the 481,000 new jobs added in January 2022, and achieved 14th months of consecutive job growth. The leisure and hospitality sector, which were hardest hit hardest by Covid-19 related layoffs, added the most jobs back, at 179,000. Most of the new positions added in February are attributable to the decrease in the Omicron surge. Americans started to socialize more, stimulating job growth at restaurants and bars. Professional services, health care, and construction also had substantial job gains. The national unemployment rate decreased to 3.8%, down from 4.0% in January. For workers age 55 and older, the unemployment rate also decreased from 3.1% in January 2022 to 3.0% in February 2022.
What’s happening for workers 55 and older?
Despite the dip in unemployment, recovery for older workers continues to be slow. The February 2022 Labor Force Participation Rate for workers 55 and older remained at 39.1%, the same as in January 2022. Furthermore, evidence of the rough road for older workers is that the number of long-term unemployed age 55 and older increased last month from 409,000 in January 2022 to 452,000 in February 2022. In addition, the median and average duration (in weeks) of unemployment also increased for this age group:
- The median duration (in weeks) of unemployment increased from 10 weeks in January 2022 to 14.3 weeks in February 2022 (not seasonally adjusted); and
- The average duration (in weeks) of unemployment increased from 30.1 weeks in January 2022 to 34.4 weeks in February 2022 (not seasonally adjusted).
Given ongoing labor shortages where there are more jobs than workers to fill them, the increases in long-term unemployment for 55 and older found in the February 2022 reports suggest that despite the deep need, older jobseekers may be experiencing ageism when getting passed over for openings.