More Older Workers Returning to Labor Force; More Long-Term Unemployed

By Susan Jones | March 4, 2016 | 11:52am EST
(AP File Photo)

( - Rep. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said on Friday that although the economy is adding jobs, the latest jobs report "seems far better than it actually is."

He pointed to several "troubling trends."

“Workers in their older years are returning to the workforce in greater numbers than prime-age workers, as the largest employment increase occurred among those 55 and older," Coats said.

According to the February unemployment report, released on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34,186,000 people, age 55 and older, were employed in February  2016, 4.27 percent (or 1.4 million) more than the 32,786,000 employed in February 2015.

Among people in their prime working years (ages 24-54), 97,736,000 were employed last month, 1.2 percent (or 1.16 million) more than the 96,572,000 employed in February 2015.

Coats also noted that the amount of long-term unemployed, defined as those looking for work for 27 weeks or longer, increased as a percentage of the unemployed in February.

Turning again to the February jobs report, the number of long-term unemployed was 2,165,000 in February, the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Last month, these individuals accounted for 27.7 percent of the unemployed.

Coats said he'll continue trying to "pursue legislation that decreases our debt, reduces overly burdensome regulations on employers and overhauls a tax code that is holding back our potential."

On a related note, jobs were among the topics raised at a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee this past Wednesday.

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told the panel that increasing automation will continue to affect lower-skilled workers as their jobs are replaced by advances in technology.

"What we should be doing in this regard is making sure people have more skills to take advantage of, so they're complementing the innovations, benefiting more from them; (and) making sure we have a labor market that's better at moving people from job to job. (Here he plugged the president's wage insurance proposal to protect people who move from higher wage to lower wage jobs).

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