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Age Discrimination Makes it Much Harder For Older People to Find Jobs

Updated on March 5, 2013
Age Discrimination
Age Discrimination | Source

Copyright(C)I.McFarlane 2012

Age discrimination can hurt older job seekers a lot, especially during times of tough economic depressions. It can cause family breakups, financial burdens and psychological sufferings. For those who have been laid off or fired from their jobs the stress of finding new jobs can be overwhelming, but it can be even more stressful for individuals who have been away from the workforce for quite awhile or just trying to gain meaningful employment for the first time.

According to data from the AARP Public Policy Institute, in February of this year (2012), approximately 1.9 million people aged 55 or older were unemployed, 21,000 more than in January. Older Job seekers were 14.7% of the unemployment in February, approximately what they were in January. The unemployment rate for older males fell to 5.7% in February from 5.9% in January, while that for older females increased to 6.1% form 5.9%.

Job loss may be more difficult for the middle-agers and the old, than it is for young adults. First, it is likely that the older adult has more of his or her identity invested in the job. Secondly, older people are likely to face age discrimination both in hiring and in training programs. Thirdly, whatever employment an older job seeker is able to find, is likely to be at a lower salary and status than the previous one. Older employees who, despite lack of education qualifications, have worked their way up in a company, may be particularly vulnerable to this loss of status because their skills are often company specific or in other words tailored for that type of company only.

Many people who lost their jobs in auto, steel and other industries that demand more advanced technological skills for example, must be retrained before they can search for a new job. If the new job is in the service sector, the worker will likely to take a pay cut. Coping with the demands of a new job and learning to live on less income are major challenges to most people.

When people must learn new skills, accept more responsibility, or take on challenges that stretch their abilities, they apt to feel inadequate to the task. Usually, resistance is based more on lack of self-confidence than on lack of ability.

Other challenges faced by older workers, are the several assumptions about older people. One such assumption is that as people get older, they can no longer adapt to changes in the business. Another belief is that older people cannot perform job tasks better or as well as someone younger. Some employers even consider it a waste of time and money to train an older employee because they will be retiring soon anyway.

It is a fact that all mental abilities are not affected to the same degree. Studies of related slippage, published in an issue of the Journal Intelligence, have shown that highly educated people with superior verbal skills retain those skills fairly well. Although mental slippage is substantially greater with age, and the decrement is greatest in what psychologists call "fluid intelligence," (the ability to learn new tasks and see things in new ways), not all individuals experience the same rate or cognitive slippage.

Presently, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act(ADEA)prohibits age-based discrimination against older workers through hiring, layoffs,compensation and other conditions of employment. Because the law covers most workers age 40 and older at workplaces with 20 or more employees, it appears somehow that the law more or less stands to benefit older workers already employed, but does more harm to those seeking employment. Some believe that the stigma of ageism or age discrimination can lead to feelings of uselessness, powerlessness, and lower self-esteem, and it only hurts the economy by preventing industrious and productive people from being productive.

Although this legislation may have prevented companies from unfairly getting rid of older workers to some extent; on the other hand, the fear of lawsuits may have prevented employers from hiring older workers.


Age discrimination in the U.S. no doubt, can bar productive workers from the workforce,causing psychological stress, financial burdens, family breakups and other familial problems for many. In general, those who cope better usually have enough money put aside to pay for bills during their period of unemployment plus have a support system made up of family and friends. It is therefore, important for everyone to be futuristic -- start saving as much as you can when you are young, because the odds are against you as you get older.


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    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Mr Garcie, as always, it's a pleasure reading your comments. Not only do you always provide additional information to reinforce my points. You have been constantly providing me with new information(things that have been happening on your side of the world). You have said something in particular that keeps occurring at my workplace "most people move on to other jobs after only a few years.'Yes, there is no question about this, it's something that occurs frequently.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 

      6 years ago

      Yes, yes and yes! Spot on, mackyi, with this Hub about the problems experienced by older people trying to get jobs. Although you write about the situation in the US it is also true about Europe. Employers seem to be fixated on hiring young people, on the basis that the cost of their training and assimilation will be amortized over a much longer period. This is in spite of evidence that most people move on to other jobs after only a few years anyway.

      In Europe (perhaps also the US?) there is a shock coming for employers, in the form of falling populations. Germany, for instance, will have approximately 20 per cent fewer workers within the next decade than it had at the start of the century. Companies will be forced to re-evaluate their attitude towards older people in the workplace, and about time too.

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Life and Luxury

      I totally agree with you! It has been said that the young may possess strength, but the old has a lot of wisdom. Wisdom comes with age, and the more you live the more you learn. With age comes experience, and with experience comes knowledge.

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for providing this additional bit of information pramofgokhale. You're right, it's important to learn new skills in order to keep up with this swiftly revolving job market. However, it's somewhat difficult for most of the older workers to quickly catch on and keep up with the pace at which these new changes in technologies occur. My advice, to the older people trying to find job: Try to keep abreast with new technology by enrolling yourself in a few new job related( technology)courses from time to time.

    • Life and Luxury profile image

      Life and Luxury 

      6 years ago from South Beach, FL

      Mackyi, this is an excellent hub about the problems older people face getting jobs. One thing a lot of people fail to realize is that the longer you live, the tougher you are, and that experience adds value in so many ways. Voted up.

    • pramodgokhale profile image


      6 years ago from Pune( India)

      The topic is fine and really thought provoking.Retired person before calling a day from existing employment should learn new skills as much as possible.the large organisation and set up has advantages and disadvantages, so to begin in small or medium size company, one should assure himself/herself to be competent and able to assimillate with new job.

      New technologies have created problems for blue collar workers and white collars too.Retraining courses is useful tool but after age 60 plus ,due to lack of energy it is not possible tolearn skiils.The deployment of such workforce can be done case by case,yes they can be productive and deliver


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