Monday, April 13, 2009


Anyone who is over fifty knows how hard to find employment during good economic times. During this time of recession, which is actually a depression, it has become close to impossible for those forty-five and older to find new employment.

From the New York Times:

When Ben Sims, 57, showed up earlier this year for a job interview at a company in Richardson, Tex., he noticed the hiring manager — several decades his junior — falter upon spotting him in the lobby.

“Her face actually dropped,” said Mr. Sims, who was dressed in a business suit befitting his 25-year career in human resources at I.B.M.

Later, in her office, after several perfunctory questions, the woman told Mr. Sims she did not believe the job would be “suitable” for him. And barely 10 minutes later, she stood to signal that the interview was over.

“I knew very much then it was an age situation,” said Mr. Sims, who has been looking for work since November 2007, a month before the economic downturn began.


Workers ages 45 and over form a disproportionate share of the hard-luck recession category, the long-term unemployed — those who have been out of work for six months or longer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On average, laid-off workers in this age group were out of work 22.2 weeks in 2008, compared with 16.2 weeks for younger workers. Even when they finally land jobs, they typically experience a much steeper drop in earnings than their younger counterparts.

Older workers do hold some advantages, though. Many have avoided layoffs in this recession, and government statistics show that people 45 and older currently have a lower unemployment rate than younger workers.


The unemployment rate in March for workers ages 45 and over was 6.4 percent, the highest since at least 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment on a monthly basis.

But once older workers lose their jobs, Dr. Munnell said, “then it’s horrible.” They have a much harder time finding work again than younger job-seekers do, and statistics appear to show that it is harder for them in this recession than in previous ones. During downturns in 1982 and 2001, workers ages 45 and over were unemployed an average of 19 weeks and just under 17 weeks, respectively.

Many out-of-work baby boomers have despaired as they wonder whether to trim their résumés to avoid giving away their decades of work experience, or to dye their hair.

More of them are now choosing to fight back. Age discrimination complaints were up nearly 30 percent in the 2008 fiscal year over the year before, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that period ended just before the worst of the recession began.

But the vast majority of those complaints involved layoffs. Discrimination in hiring is often almost impossible to prove.

Yes, it is almost impossible to prove age discrimination, because it is up to the person who has been discriminated against to prove that they were.


Nancy said...

That's disheartening, however, over the past 25 or so years, I personally, have witnessed this same scenario time and again. Due to the positions I held at various companies, I can state this is a common occurence. Most companies seem to want fresh, young faces who do not command a higher salary or a girth of experience. They say many times an experienced person comes with baggage of old school ways of doing things so they would prefer to hire someone who will mold to the company's culture. As if to say older people cannot adjust to a new way of doing things. Not fair, is it!

BTW - Good afternoon, Eddie. :)

Grandpa Eddie said...

Nancy - Yes, it's very disheartening.

There is nothing that says that we, as older workers, can't change. I've done it before and can do it again if needed.

One other thing that is used so the more mature workers can be turned away is the "we'd have to pay you to much because of your experience".
Pay me the starting wage, I just want and need a job!

Good afternoon, Nancy. :)

Nancy said...

That is a common refrain even though it just isn't true. People want to work and know that everyone starts somewhere and they work their way up. I know how fortunate I am that I was able to retire at a very early age while hubby still brings home the bacon. He's been with the same company for 30 years with 4 more years until retirement. It would be devastating for him mentally and emotionally if he lost his job at this point in time. He would feel the same as you. He'd work at a starting wage if he had to.

Grandpa Eddie said...

I hope he is able to keep his job until he is ready to retire, Nancy.

If he can, he will be one of the fortunate ones....a member of that group that is slowly dwindling.