Older workers experienced higher unemployment than mid-career workers in the pandemic recession: Percentage-point difference in average unemployment rate between older workers (age 55+) and mid-career workers (ages 35–54), 1975–2020 recessions

Months of peak unemployment Gap between mid-career (35–54) and older workers (55+)
May–Oct 1975 -0.8
Jul–Dec 1980 -1.2
Dec 1982–May 1983 -1.7
Jun–Nov 1992 -0.6
Jun–Nov 2003 -0.5
Oct 2009–Mar 2010 -1.2
Apr–Sep 2020 1.1


Notes: Chart shows the percentage-point difference (how much higher or lower the average unemployment rate of older workers age 55+ is relative to that of mid-career workers ages 35–54) over six-month periods beginning in the month of peak unemployment in each recession.

Source: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA) analysis of Current Population Survey microdata (Flood et al. 2021).

View the underlying data on epi.org.