Job Insecurity in the Aging Working Poor

In the U.S., nearly 30% of the 7.6 million people who fall below the poverty line are “older workers” (age 45+). In the context of an aging workforce, corporate downsizing and increased contract-based work will prompt increasing job insecurity among the older working poor. Although researchers have modeled the antecedents and consequences of job insecurity, the circumstances associated with aging and poverty are not well-represented in these models. For example, when people experience job insecurity, a common response is to retrain or seek alternative employment. However, these may not be viable options for the aging poor. With fewer career options, the aging working poor may have fewer problem-focused coping options at their disposal compared to wealthier and younger workers (e.g., an older worker may hide health concerns and engage in presenteeism to preserve their job). We propose that the aging working poor will respond differently to job insecurity, and that there are job design characteristics (e.g., high physicality, low flexibility) that may exacerbate job insecurity. Using a Grounded Theory approach, we conducted approximately twenty-five interviews with older individuals who are among the working poor to investigate their job insecurity. This will inform researchers, as their job insecurity models have not necessarily considered this growing population. We also hope to inform organizational decision makers, who can redesign work to reduce feelings of job insecurity, thereby potentially improving the wellness of their older, lower-paid workforce. These data will be presented at the conference.

Aging, Working Poor, Job Insecurity, Grounded Theory, Qualitative, Older Workers

Economic and Demographic Perspectives on Aging

Poster Session

  • Barbara Fritzsche
    • Associate Dean, University of Central Florida, United States United States
  • Alyssa Perez
    • Doctoral Student, University of Central Florida, United States United States