While many older employees look to switch jobs rather than enter into full retirement from their current employer—a common desire among federal workers, as well—a study has warned of the difficulty of getting new employment at a relatively advanced age for the workforce.

A report by the Center for Retirement Research suggests that older workers should not leave a current employer and then look for a job, but rather should have another job firmly in hand before leaving. “Older workers who lose a job have substantially worse outcomes over the long run than those who avoid involuntary job loss,” it said.

It looked at older workers who became unemployed during the recent recession—many of whom it said were valued employees who otherwise would have remained employed, even in a less severe downturn—and found they “will end up substantially worse off than those who did not lose their job.”

Such persons had significant trouble getting new employment not only because of the recession but also because of the general difficulties of being hired at a more advanced age, the study said. It projected their earnings to be up to a fifth lower over the following decade than would have been the case had they remained employed and that their total financial assets will be as much as 30 percent lower.

The situation gets progressively worse the longer the period of unemployment, it added. “Workers who spend a long time away from employment, especially those nearing old age, risk skill atrophy and declining health, and may find it difficult to convince employers to hire them.”