Many older part-timers still looking for full-time jobs

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As Labor Day approaches, more than 7.5 million part-time American workers are over 50, and some of them are having a tough time.

Carl Van Horn, who directs the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, said most older part-timers are happy to get a little extra income.

But 24 percent of them would like a full-time job and haven’t been able to find one.

“Most of them are very dissatisfied with their jobs, and their economic conditions are not in good shape,” Van Horn said. “They can’t afford to pay their rent. Many of them get food stamps, assistance buying food. They go to food pantries. They borrow money from family and friends. They move in with other people.”

In many cases, Van Horn said, those disgruntled part-timers lost full-time positions and haven’t found new ones.

“In most cases it’s a function of the slow recovery,” he said. “We’ve had a recovery, but it hasn’t absorbed all these workers. We also find with older workers, some of them are stigmatized. They’ve been unemployed, they haven’t had a full-time job, they’re older, and so some employers don’t think that they’re up to the task.”

The ranks of older part-timers are increasing, Van Horn said.

“People are voluntarily working part time often tell us that they want to spend more time with their family, travel. They like the flexibility,” he said. “They may be already eligible for Medicare, or perhaps they have benefits from their previous employer.”

Seventy-one percent of all older workers surveyed said they’d like to see Congress change the law so they could earn more without losing some Social Security benefits.

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