Age discrimination in the job market may be illegal, but it remains prevalent. That’s the unsettling conclusion found in this recent article from the Reuters news service analyzing the plight of older workers in today’s slow-growth economy.
The article by Reuters columnist Mark Miller has a stark title: “Older and jobless – the US recovery’s forgotten story.” Miller reports that six years after the so-called end of the Great Recession, and in spite of large numbers of new jobs being created by American employers, there are still millions of older workers who want a full time job but can’t find one. Miller says emphatically that one of the chief causes of this phenomenon is age discrimination.
Under a landmark 1967 law, age discrimination is clearly illegal: employers can’t treat job applicants or employees over 40 differently because of age. But as the Reuters article points out, proving discrimination in the hiring process is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, according to an AARP survey from a few years ago, fully two-thirds of older workers believe age discrimination is alive and well in the American workplace.
Ironically, recent economic data seems to indicate that things are thriving on the employment front, even among senior workers. Reuters’ Miller says that job growth based on just-released government data is looking strong. The unemployment rate, presently at 4.9 percent nationally, is significantly lower among workers over 55 at just 3.5 percent. “But,” argues Miller, “that figure is deceptive.” Add in those seniors holding part-time jobs who would rather be working full time, plus those who have stopped looking out of a sense of frustration, and the real unemployment rate among older workers jumps up to a whopping 12 percent. “Looked at another way,” Miller writes, “2.5 million older Americans want a job but do not have one.”
The Reuters article goes on to cite investigative research which has proven in several test cases that age discrimination remains all too common among employers nationwide. Not only does it take older workers far longer than their younger counterparts to finally land a job, but they typically return to the labor force earning about 25 percent less pay. In test cases, older workers are far less likely to get a “call back” during their job hunt than younger applicants.
The problem is even worse, says the Reuters article, for older women job seekers whose unemployment rate is “several percentage points higher than it is for men.”
Beside the immediate impact – loss of income, loss of self-esteem, often an increase in debt – the income disruptions caused by extended unemployment “play havoc with retirement plans,” writes Miller. Data shows that almost half of current retirees are retiring earlier than planned, and 60 percent of older workers who lose their jobs involuntarily end up in an unplanned retirement. Not only do these retirees bring less savings into their senior years, but they also may see their Social Security earnings reduced due to the drop in income credits. Many feel forced to file for benefits early, cutting their Social Security income for the rest of their lives. Unemployment can create a bleak retirement outlook for many seniors.
The Reuters article offers few solutions except to suggest that it’s time for a nationwide movement, similar to the women’s movement, to bring the problems of age discrimination to the forefront and to force a solution. That may be true, but in the immediate future what should you do to protect yourself and your assets against this kind of setback? We urge you to seek professional advice from an unbiased source. Too many financial planners are really salespeople in disguise, more interested in selling you a product than in helping you create an objective plan. Feel free to contact our office during business hours and allow us to help you review several options. If appropriate, we can refer you to a trusted financial advisor who can help you protect your assets in retirement.
Of course, retirement means much more than money. Here at AgingOptions we want to offer our wide-ranging services as eldercare advisors in all aspects of retirement. With our many years of professional experience and our carefully selected resource network, we can assist you as you navigate retirement’s uncharted waters. Sometimes as you explore an unfamiliar route it helps to have a professional guide alongside you. In fact, that approach – serving as your professional guide – is the same one we use for the entire process of retirement planning. We call this strategy LifePlanning. Your own individual LifePlan becomes your navigation chart, guiding you forward as you create the retirement lifestyle you’ve always hoped for.
Best of all, the process of creating your LifePlan doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You can find out more about this exciting breakthrough in retirement planning by attending one of our popular LifePlanning Seminars. These events are absolutely free – but the information you’ll gain is priceless. You’ll discover how all the facets of your retirement plan – financial, legal, housing, medical and family – fit together into one seamless LifePlan. To find out dates and times, and to register for a LifePlanning Seminar online, click on the Upcoming Events tab, or call us during working hours. We’ll look forward to meeting you soon!
(originally reported at www.reuters.com)