As the fog of this war on the U.S. economy begins to clear, it looks as if one class of employees will be among the hardest hit by the pandemic — professionals and executives 50 years and older. And if that sounds familiar, it should. The Great Recession 12 years ago had a similar impact. This time, however, these typically highly trained employees who are at the top of their career game should embrace their new “interim” status.
There’s no question that the times we live in are unprecedented for everyone actively pursuing a career. Those of us 50-plus have to reach back to our parents’ generation when they were teens, just on the cusp of entering the workforce in the Great Depression, to witness this kind of unemployment.
As I write this in April, the latest figures have just been released with the total of the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits just shy of 29 million. By May, we’ll be well past the 30 million mark and counting. The number of jobs lost between March 15 and April 18 of this year wiped out all the jobs after the 2008 Great Recession — 12 years’ worth of job gain gone in a month. (That didn’t happen even during the Great Depression.)
Here’s another way to frame it: Less than half of working-age Americans will be earning a wage next month. These are uncharted waters we’re navigating. However, it’s clear now that the future lies with those who will adapt and even take advantage of the fact that their old jobs won’t be coming back.