The New Social Contract: Age-Friendly Employers  |  Early Evidence on the Impact of COVID-19 and the Recession on Older Workers

The New Social Contract: Age-Friendly Employers

Age-Friendly Employers explores the vital role of employers in helping workers successfully navigate their working lives and prepare for retirement, a role that has become even more crucial and precarious amid the pandemic.

This report examines employer-sponsored retirement and other welfare benefits, flexible work arrangements, and workplace wellness programs. It discusses best practices and provides actionable recommendations for empowering workers. Indeed, while employers are a critical catalyst, they must be supported by public policy and individuals must engage in the programs offered.

Trans America Center for Retirement Studies. 9th Annual Global Retirement Readiness Survey

Early evidence on the impact of COVID-19 and the recession on older workers

Some of the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession are summarised and possible future effects on the employment outcomes of older workers in the United States are discussed.

We start by discussing what we know about how older workers fared in prior recessions in the United States and how COVID-19 and this recession may differ. We then estimate some early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on employment and unemployment rates by age group and sex using Current Population Survey data. We calculate employment and unemployment rates multiple ways to account for the complicated employment situation and possible errors in survey enumeration.

We find that while previous recessions, in some ways, did not affect employment outcomes for older workers as much, this recession disproportionately affected older workers of ages 65 and older. For example, we find that unemployment rates in April 2020 increased to 15.43% for those ages 65 and older, compared to 12.99% for those ages 25-44. We also find that COVID-19 and the recession disproportionately affected women, where women have reached higher unemployment rates than men, which was consistent for all age groups and unemployment rate measures we used.

USA National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2020