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When are you over the hill?

Updated on July 24, 2010

A few days ago, one of Clinton's former commerce heads commented about the current unemployment and economy. As he was, he said that "if you are 55 or older and unemployed now, you might as well forget about working." What did he mean? Why?

Once could say, if you are 16 or younger, you can forget about working. Or, if you are 80 or older, forget it.

That kind of insensitive statement probably hit home to a lot of the millions unemployed and 55 or older. Yet, it really is not true. Go to my local Walgreens and you will see many older than that working for $10 hr. Same true with many places. What I think he meant was that finding a decent job at that age is a detriment because like it or not, a young manager will most likely not hire you because of age perceptions and whether you are the "right" fit for a younger office age, which is totally bullshit, BUT, it is age discrimination. If two job applicants, one 25 and one 55, both very similar skills, both can do the job apply for the same job and the hiring manager is under 40, odds are the 25 yr old will get it most of the time. Especially if the office culture comprises mostly of 40 and younger. This may even be true if the hiring manager is 55.

There is a wrong perception that someone 55 or older is somehow not equal to younger applicants. Part of the issue is physical looks, the other part is most feel that by 55 or 60, your career is done and that you should be retired. If you are looking for work, then, something must be wrong with you or how you mismanaged your retirement fund and now you need to work. It is a stigma older job applicants face, not to mention, subtle age discrimination all the time.

That thinking might be valid 25 years ago, but not in the past few years when many that age and older suddenly find themselves needing to continue work due to economic conditions. But there is some truth to that statement because of the bad job market. Finding work for many is hard, whether new college grads having there dreams shot to hell and having to go home to live with mom and dad to 50 yr olds and older finding out they lost their career and need to find another one when there are six applicants for every job, even the low level ones paying a mere $10 hr. So, the bad economy is simply another hurdle for those 50 yr olds and older to cross that those much younger do not need to face.


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