The effects of today’s economy has no discrimination but it seems like it might be a little harder for those over 40 that have been affected by layoffs. This article titled Trouble starting over, over 40 posted on AARP highlights the challenges that some over 40 are experiencing looking for new employment. It also points out some current statistics and how you can continue to sharpen your skills to be competitive in today’s job market.
Have you had trouble finding a job? Please comment and share your experiences. Here is the article:
Trouble starting over, over 40
from: The Decatur Daily | March 7, 2011
Mar. 7, 2011 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) — Older, unemployed residents in the Decatur area say the few local employers who are hiring seem to choose younger workers over them, reinforcing their feelings of self-doubt and loss of purpose in life.
“I’ve found that the company looks at the age on your application, and it’s like you can see them thinking, ‘Well this guy is only going to be with us for another 10 years instead of this younger person who could be here 25 or more,’ ” Jim Beck of Decatursaid.
Beck, 58, has been out of work for nearly 20 months since Delphi closed its Decatur plant. Since then, Beck has submitted numerous job applications with no success.
Many such as Beck suspect companies won’t hire older workers because they would have to pay them more for their work experience. Yet Beck also realizes there’s a lot more folks looking for jobs in these tough economic times.
The unemployment rate in Morgan County is 8.9 percent, matching the national rate for February.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which was crafted to protect individuals over age 40, makes it illegal for employers to refuse to hire a person based on his or her age.
In 2010, 50 charges of age discrimination were filed in the Decatur/Huntsville Metropolitan Statistical Area out of a nationwide total of 631, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“They say they’re not doing it, but then you look at the people they’re actually hiring. It’s all younger people in their 20s or 30s,” Beck said.
It’s taken more than a year, but Karen Smith Watts, 49, of Decatur, has accepted the fact a former employer chose a younger, inexperienced woman over her for a job that required clerical experience and customer service skills. Watts had worked part-time in the same position and applied for the full-time spot when it became available.
“She (the woman hired) apparently stayed about a week and then never came back,” Watts said. “It really hurt my feelings at the time. I felt like they didn’t think I could do the job even though I had been doing it when I applied. The girl just came off the street with no experience and got it.”
Watts’ household, which includes two sons in college, now relies on her husband’s salary alone. She’s been out of work since 2009.
Older workers who lose their jobs often go longer without finding employment than their younger counterparts.
Some 49.1 percent of older job seekers have been out of work 27 weeks or longer compared to 28.5 percent of those aged 16 to 24 and 41.3 percent in the 25-to-54 age group. However, older individuals are participating in the job market at a higher rate than the young, according to researchers with the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
The trend toward an older work force began in the early 1990s, according to the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Several contributing factors include older employees working because they are healthier, a falling number of physically demanding jobs and Social Security changing the retirement age from 65 to 67.
In the past six months, more older individuals with a depth of work experience have come into Decatur’s Alabama Career Center looking for help, said Abott Wood, team manager.
“Usually the largest unemployed age group is between 35 to 44 years old,” he said. “Historically, the smallest group has been over 54 years old.”
Once truck drivers
Cheryl, 52, and Joe Spell, 56, of Decatur had worked as truck drivers for the past few years but have been unemployed since August. They gave up long-haul trips to come back to Decatur to care for Joe Spell’s ailing 81-year-old mother.
Many over age 40 still provide for their children along with their aging parents. Add in the loss of health insurance and retirement benefits and the financial pressure can be overwhelming.
“The only reason why we’re not living under a bridge somewhere is because the house is paid off,” Joe Spell said, “but we still struggle to pay the taxes on it.”
The Spells hope to find a trucking job locally so they can be home every night. Joe Spell has worked as a roofer but said he’s now too old to “tote 80 pounds of shingles on a roof in the summertime.”
The couple had worked in Virginia, where they say trucking jobs are plentiful.
“There’s nothing here,” Cheryl Spell said. “Everything is 10 to 14 days on the road, and we can’t leave his mother alone for that long.”
Beck says he is going to keep applying for production jobs, knowing he’s up against younger competition.
“I feel just as healthy as I was at 30 and like I can do the same work as anyone else,” he said, “but companies treat you like you’ve reached your peak at 50, and you might just fall over with a heart attack tomorrow.”
Older and unemployed
Estimates of the number of unemployed in each age group for 2010:
45 to 54: 15,000 1,156,000
55 to 64: 6,000 698,000
65 plus: 1,000 187,000
ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Resources for job seekers
The Decatur Public Library has online databases — accessible from the home or library — with information to help those looking for work. Go to www.decatur.lib.al.us
Learning Express: Dedicated to job searches, workplace skills and GED preparation.
Homework Alabama: Submit your resume between 3 to 10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday for editing and proofing prior to submitting it to employers.
Alabama Virtual Library
Small Business Reference Center: Covers topics such as buying/selling a business, managing employees, writing a business plan, understanding legal information, and marketing a business
Ferguson Career Guidance Center: Provides information on careers, college planning, financial aid, job-hunting and workplace skills.
Career Library: Explore career interests, plan for college or the workforce and take interactive quizzes, standardized test questions and GED sample tests.
THE DECATUR PUBLIC LIBRARY
Tips to getting a job
For those unemployed and over 40, it can be tough to get back in to the job market. The following suggestions can help in finding and landing a job:
- Target a position that matches your experience and skills.
- Advertise your professional talents. If you’re computer-proficient, list it on your resume along with specific programs and software.
- Consider taking a computer class to learn new skills. The Digital Inclusion Initiative is a five-week computer course free of charge to those over 55 or disabled. Contact Jan Wiggins at 256-355-4515, extension 231, for more information.
- Network with professional organizations, former colleagues and coworkers to stay informed of possible job openings. Eighty percent of jobs are found through someone you know.
- Focus on your strengths and accomplishments, not your age. In an interview, play up what you can bring to the table and how you can get the job done, listing examples from past positions.
KATE LORENZ WITH CAREER BUILDER, LONA JOHNS WITH THE SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE
Charges of age discrimination
The following is the number of age discrimination charges filed in the Decatur-Huntsville Metropolitan Statistical Area:
Fiscal Year 2008
Decatur/ Hunts. 65
Fiscal Year 2009
Decatur/ Hunts. 44
Fiscal Year 2010
Decatur/ Hunts. 50
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Newstex ID: KRTB-0047-101468315