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Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.


By Susan M. Sipprelle
Englewood, NJ, USA


Boomers have been hit hard by the Great Recession. Our post-WWII bulge generation is aging and out of work at the highest rates and the longest periods since the government started tracking older worker employment data in 1948. 

The downturn has compounded significant structural changes in the U.S. economy, making job prospects dim for those who are 50-plus and currently jobless. This time around, it’s not civil rights or women’s rights that need our awareness, voices and votes.  It’s the economy, [stupid], our role in it and the legacy we, the Boomers, are leaving for our children and grandchildren.

Susan M. Sipprelle

“Change never comes from the top down; it always comes from the bottom up.” - David, 64, unemployed information technology executive, Wayne, N.J.

Since Feb. 2010, I’ve been traveling around the country with a team conducting video interviews for a multimedia documentary project entitled OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK. Fourteen million members of my generation are unemployed. Many are fearful they will never find another decent job or see the value of their homes and savings restored. They are very worried about their futures.

Boomers have contributed to remarkable social and cultural changes during the past fifty years, but our lives aren’t over yet.  Maybe we’ve just delayed our ultimate generational coming of age until now. Cool, huh?   

“I can’t even believe that I’m 60 years old. That is shocking.” - Deborah, 60, entrepreneur, Fort Myers, Fla.

What do our interviewees want?  Most of them have been working since they were teenagers. Until now, they rarely had any trouble finding employment. But, times have changed.

“You can’t get a job to save your soul.” - Bill, 55, unemployed flooring installer, Little Chute, Wis.

“Probably, in the last 10 months, I’ve sent out 400 or 500 resumes.” - Dan, 53, unemployed marketing and e-commerce executive, Denville, N.J.

“I have to get up the next day and do it again, and I will continue to do so, until I get a job.” - Stephen, 57, unemployed salesman, Massapequa, N.Y.

“Give me my independence, but also give me my work, and let me make my own way.  Let me survive.”  - Dorothy, 68, working three part-time jobs, Englewood, N.J.

“We think that all these material things that we collect along the way mean so much; it really doesn’t. What means a lot is what you can share with other people.” - Regis, 65, unemployed family counselor, Hempstead, N.Y.

“I want to have that balance between working, helping others and free time.” - Bob, 55, unemployed controller, Wantagh, N.Y.

Our parents are referred to as the “Greatest Generation,” while Boomers are often described in the media as self-indulgent, self-absorbed and self-centered.  Both the ordinary and the extraordinary Boomers we have met along the way prove otherwise.

“What can I contribute?  What can I do to help?” - Patrick, 57, unemployed auditor and manager, Massapequa, N.Y.

“I want to get out there, and I want to find a job where it will help.  I will feel complete again, whole, where I can contribute.” - Joan, 58, unemployed bank branch manager, Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

Every one of interviewees we have filmed wants a fair shake, an opportunity to be reemployed and to participate in the working world again.

“It isn’t about materialism.  It is about being able to compassionately understand that we are all in this together.  This is America.” - Joe, 50, unemployed steelworker, Weirton, W. Va.

Maybe we’re finally realizing that we are the grown-ups and that there is more to adulthood than the individual responsibilities we’ve shouldered and upheld over the past 20 or 30 years to our families, our local communities, our jobs, and sometimes to military service.  Maybe the Boomer generation’s time has come to reactivate our cool and change the world all over again.



Susan M. Sipprelle is a multimedia documentary maker, a journalist and a photographer. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 2008, and is the mother of five children.

OVER 50 AND OUT OF WORK is an ongoing multimedia project that documents the impact of the Great Recession on jobless Americans, 50 and older. Boomers, generally regarded as self-centered and indulgent, reveal unexpected depths of faith, perseverance and resilience through their life stories.

Click on the Names to View Their Stories.


All opinions expressed by Susan M. Sipprelle are solely her own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.


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