a¿¿ GRAYER WORKERS
The unemployment rate is just 4.9 percent for Americans older than 65, compared with 7 percent for adults as a whole. Dating to November 2012, the number of senior citizens who either have a job or are looking for one has grown by nearly half a million to 7 million.
In some cases, they kept working after they reached retirement age because their nest egg vanished during the financial crisis. There's another factor, too: Social Security. To receive full Social Security benefits, Americans now have to wait until age 66, instead of 65.
a¿¿ STAGNANT PAY AT THE BOTTOMRestaurants and hotels created nearly 16 percent of the jobs added over the past 12 months. Those industries are known for paying low wages to their fry cooks and cleaning staff. Fast food chains like McDonald's have been at the epicenter of a battle over low wages, with employees around the country last week staging walkouts. Restaurants and hotels added 361,000 workers this year. And basic economic theory says greater demand for workers usually leads to higher pay. So how much did restaurants and hotels have to raise pay to attract people in November? Just 15 cents an hour to $11.80. Based on the average number of hours the industry's employees work each week, that wage is roughly at the poverty line for a parent and child. And since September, leisure industry wages have actually dipped 3 cents an hour. a¿¿ LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED Even as the number of unemployed Americans has fallen nearly 350,000 in the past two months, the ranks of the long-term unemployed have barely budged. They number about 4.1 million. And they're not catching many breaks. Companies are shying away from hiring workers with extended gaps in their resumes. More than 37 percent of unemployed Americans in November have been out of work for half a year or more, a higher proportion than in October. If most of these Americans continue to be viewed as unemployable, that trend will hold back the economy's growth.