Unemployment Woes Multiply for the Over 55 Crowd

ST LOUIS – Instead of being sought by employers for the depth of their experience and knowledge, workers over 55 are having a hard time finding jobs.

Steve Giegerich of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported on the struggles many older Americans face in today’s gloomy job market.

Giegerich pointed to the average amount of time those over 55 often spend looking for a new job: 56 weeks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an 18 weeks more than what the rest of the population has to wait to land a new position.

For older applicants such as 57-year-old Larry Wilson, age itself is yet another added obstacle to finding a new job. As Giegerich reports:

“We all know that people are supposedly created equal, and that there’s no discrimination,” said the 57-year-old Wilson, a resident of St. Charles County last employed full-time eight years ago. “Then there’s the real world.”

And Wilson isn’t alone in this feeling:

“It’s difficult to prove without a shadow of doubt that it’s discrimination,” AARP President Robert Romasco said during a visit to St. Louis last week. “But if you talk to anyone over 50 looking for job, you know they’re not feeling the love.”

Some researchers, including Michael McCarty of Maryville University, suggest workers’ suspicions of age discrimination might be justified:

“It’s the nub of the jobs crisis that hiring managers won’t or can’t acknowledge,” McCarty said. “If someone has been employed in a single profession or with a single company, they are deemed too old and too expensive too hire.”


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