Age Discrimination: Are Workers Over 50 Cursed in the Job Market?

age discriminationThe feelings older workers have about age discrimination and being condemned to joblessness isn't just in their heads. According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of older workers who have been unemployed for 12 months or more is 50 percent higher this year than it was last year and marks the biggest increase across all age groups. So is there really an "Over 50s Curse" when it comes to finding work? Is there such a thing as being too old to get a new job?

The unemployment rate for workers over the age of 55 is hovering at around 7 percent, which is deceivingly low considering the plight older workers face when they lose their jobs. Older workers tend to carry rank and be in more stable positions but they also often receive higher salaries and more benefits than their younger counterparts, which makes them a prime target for companies looking to cut the bottom line during a recession. Once they've lost a job, finding a new one is all but impossible thanks to a slew of factors including very specific skill-sets and a tendency to be more selective in job choices, plus the ever-ominous and hard-to-quantify age discrimination monster.

-- See the average salaries of workers ages 44 - 65.

Age discrimination rears its ugly head in the form of employers assuming (illegally of course) that an older applicant will be harder to train, less productive, less technologically savvy, uninterested in a position with a lower salary, and/or unwilling to relocate. Oftentimes, older applicants don't even get in the door for an interview, having already been eliminated based on stereotypes alone. And because it's so difficult to prove that age discrimination was a factor, there's little that applicants can do to fight back, leaving many of them stuck between a rock and a hard place: too old to find work but too young to retire.

Nearly 170,000 workers ages 50 and over have been unemployed for 12 months or more in this country, left to search fruitlessly for jobs month after month all while burning through precious retirement savings and building up debt in its place. Many have pushed retirement back and some have kissed it goodbye completely. "I'll be working until I die," says Marguerite DiGaetano, 58, who has given up on any hopes of retirement after being unemployed for two years. "I think the person who invents the cubicle where you can discreetly hang your walker where it doesn't trip anybody, that person will be very popular with the baby boomers." And that's assuming she finds a job and has a cubicle.

Sure sounds like a curse to me.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

How can older people fight back and what is the government doing to assure older people are hired? Recently, I asked someone I knew if he could ask his cousin who is a principal over a school system, if she could arrange an interview since I heard they were hiring. Even though the person whom I asked to ask his cousin doesn't know my age, when his principal cousin asked him if I was over 50, he responded yes. Then this principal told him I would not be hired because they are not hiring anyone over 50 years of age. Now this principal was talking to her cousin so we was upfront and candid with him. Therefore, she was openly telling him the school policy was not to hire anyone over 50. Isn't that against the law? In other words, based on what her cousin assumed as to be my age, I wasn't even going to be given an interview since this principal eliminated me as soon as her cousin told her I was 50. What can be done in this case? I know the school lawyers can make a case for hearsay,, the point is, the principal felt free enough to tell her cousin the school policy.

May 14 2014 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My last job position was Director of Nursing for a large corporate Nursing home chain in IL. I was bullied out of my position by a narcissistic regional manager who falsely accused me of infringing a resident's rights. The regional manager stated she had been in over the weekend and read documentation in a chart that I was suppose to have stated to the nurse that wrote the note. The regional manager called me into the office and told me that either I resign or if she had to fire me she would report me to IL BON. The allegations were false, the reason for termination were also false. The regional manager first of all did not visit the home over the weekend, the documentation did not exist, further more the documented care plan was not read by the regional manger, a care plan which was carefully constructed by myself, the rehab team, and discussed with the patient prior to execution of the approaches. This was purely a case of bullying. And easy for the regional manager to terminate me because at the time I was 57 years old, she new how difficult it would be for me to find another position. It has been almost 3 years since I worked as a nurse in any capacity. I have completed many applications, submitted my resume to multiple Long term care companies and have only had a handful of interviews. I am experienced and qualified as leader and manager. I strongly feel that I am being discriminated against because of my age, and I feel that I have also been blackballed by the this corporation. My interviews go very well, but I never get called back for second interviews or with job offers. I have exhausted my 401K, and unemployment benefits. Currently I am sitting here in the UK, where I came to try to find work, As soon as I stepped off the plan the UK Border told my I could visit for up to six months, but I could not work, not apply for benefits in this country. I will be returning to the states Dec 31, 2012. I have no home, and have to sell all my personal belongings prior to my departure to the UK. Yes it is a sad situation, but I cannot get benefits or help in the U.S. as there are many people in the same situation as I am in and the waiting list are very long. Do not know where I will go, or what I will do from here. My confidence and self esteem are at an all time low, but to chicken to commit suicide, but have thought a lot about it.

November 14 2012 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seniors unite - We need to pool resources, start a business, and only hire people over 45. Anyone have any ideas?

September 05 2012 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jackie Simmonds

I would never characterize myself as "old" but this job market sure makes it feel that way. I have tried to leverage contacts at a company only to be told "they aren't going to hire anyone over 30 for that position". And this was not my contacts interpretation, she was quoting the hiring manager. You can't fall into the pity party though because let's face it we need a job! Phil Rosenberg wrote an article where he talks about the reality of age discrimination and how to get past it. "Laid Off After 40: Age Discrimination", you can read it at

March 15 2011 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Rivers

JUNK MAIL: have some fun ---->
remove the contents of each envelop and stuff it into a "postage paid" envelope of another junk mail. Publisher's clearing house: not read it. Just cut out and paste some porn pictures onto the places for stamps that represent the books Publisher's Clearing House is soliciting. Stuff the return envelope with this as well as some unused toilet paper. I guarentee you, you will be off their list pronto. It works!

January 12 2011 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had a job with one of the "big 3" in Detroit, working for the one that did not take government bailout money. I worked my butt off and helped the bottom line more than 80% of the younger set. Then only 3 months after I turned 50 I was tossed aside like yesterday's garbage. Forced to take a sh*t job that was not only sh*t but required 100% out-of-state travel. Then two years later that job was eliminated and so was I.

October 10 2010 at 8:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dave's comment
John Rivers

Was there anything that lead up to this transfer to to a bad job?

January 12 2011 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is an obvious truth! As a year+ long unemployed HR Pro, I've had 7 interviews, ace the interviews, perfectly qualified, perfectly fit the positions, yet, never get passed the first interview. My resume looks like I'm 35, and at 50+, I never get past first base. The last company I interviewed with like this, took over 3 weeks after constant questioning by me, to finally come up with an excuse which was totally implausable and completely made no sense. And as a person who works in Human Resources, I know full well what's happening. It's happening to me!

September 01 2010 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was passed up three times for a sales position with my company. The first time I had been an account manager in the territory and developed the territory for two years. The territory grew 300%. When they promoted the sales rep to a different position, I put my hat in the ring for the sales position. The HR manager wanted to promote me, but the Dist. Mgr and Regional Mgr gave it to a younger guy. The territory grew and submitted my resume again and was denied and it was given to a rep that I had actually trained. The third time I was told it was because I did not have a college degree. I have found out that there are other Sales Reps in our region who do not have a college degree.

August 17 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web