August 30th, 2012

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center showed that workers aged 55 and older were more likely to be unemployed for a year or more once they were laid off than their younger counterparts. Workers in that age group were the least likely to lose their jobs, but once they did, they were more often jobless for at least a year.

Experts say that those who are out of the job market for a prolonged period of time risk lower wages in the future and bias in hiring by employers who are concerned about their competency. Many unemployed job seekers slip out of the middle class for the first time in their lives and risk defaulting on mortgages and draining retirement accounts.

Some are turning to part-time and freelance work, while others pick up odd jobs to make ends meet. With many still struggling with high pre-recession mortgage payments and consumer debt, it is becoming more and more difficult for unemployed people to maintain their standard of living.

Workers who are older and have more experience say that they are at a disadvantage during the tough economy, when technology skills and low salary requirements for younger workers are favored by employers.

“I have an excellent career record. It all comes down to age discrimination,” one unemployed woman told reporters. She added that she wishes she lived in “a new country where expertise is valued.”

Discriminating against a worker on the basis of age is prohibited under state and federal employment laws. More information about what options victims of age discrimination have is available on our Minnesota employment law website.

Source: The Washington Times, “The Mean Economy: Even law firms hit hard by recession,” Patrice Hill, August 27, 2012.

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