Monday, May 09, 2011

Distressing News

The job market is still pretty bleak, but it's even bleaker for older unemployed workers. You would think that their experience and their knowledge would make them prime candidates for positions that do open up, but, unfortunately for those over 55, you would be wrong.

A number of older job seekers are finding that their age is working against them during this painfully slow recovery. People age 55 and older are unemployed for a year on average — more than two months longer than younger workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some employers are scared away by the higher pay and health care costs that can come with hiring older workers, as well as the perception that an older hire may not be motivated to learn new skills. ...

When they do get a job offer, older workers often have to agree to a much bigger cut in salary. Workers above age 60 were paid $300 a week less on average when they were rehired, compared to $125 less for the overall labor market, according to 2007-2009 data analyzed by Northeastern’s labor market center.

Prospective employers are careful not to talk about age, but older job seekers hear it just the same. Alyse Winston, 57, of Needham, who is looking for work in software quality assurance, had one interviewer tell her: “We really do well with recent college graduates. They have the energy and the momentum, and we can train them our way.’’

Discrimination on the basis of age is illegal, but employers have become more careful in working around the issue so it is difficult for job applicants to get any kind of handle on what is clearly an age knock-out. Frankly, employer reluctance to hire older workers does make some sense, given the botched up healthcare reform which does nothing to reduce the cost of health care insurance for older workers, something making an earlier age for Medicare eligibility would have helped. Still, there are a lot of older workers who could still do the jobs they are being turned away from.

The official unemployment rate for elders is deceptively low. Many have simply left the workforce, drawing social security and on their savings far earlier than they had planned.

Somebody really needs to do something about this or we will soon have a huge underclass of poor elders, people who worked and saved all of their working lives, only to have the pins knocked out from under them.

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Blogger PurpleGirl said...

From my own experience, I predict a new round of elderly single women who will be living in poverty for the rest of their lives. Without jobs and having been in low-wage jobs for most of their working lives, their Social Security will barely cover their living costs and without family to help them they will be lost.

And yet there are wealthy pundits and think-tank whores who think we can all work until 70 (or older) as they plan to engorge themselves on privatizing all the safety net programs they can.

Good post, btw.

6:11 AM  
Blogger PurpleGirl said...

I had a problem with your link. I went to the Boston Globe and found the article. Link:

7:39 AM  

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