The US Jobs Recovery Is Harsh on Older Workers

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By Jacob Maslow

Older applicants
Elderly man sitting in a line to the interview with human resources among much younger job applicants, vector illustration

If you are an older American and you have been looking for a job, the good news is that there are more and more jobs available on the market. The good news is that the overall unemployment rate is dropping across the board. The bad news is that you may not benefit from all this positive development if you live in the wrong state. The American South West is still having a tough time creating jobs. While the overall jobs picture in those states is improving, those states still have higher unemployment rates than the rest of the country on average.

Another piece of bad news is that, in the event you do find a job, chances are it would be in a field that is very different from your previous field. The second problem is that you will probably be earning much less than the job that you had before. To make matters worse, if you get a job, chances are you would be working only part-time. This is going to be a tough slog for older Americans.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody seems to want to talk about is that age discrimination has essentially become the rule in the United States, thanks to a fairly recent US Supreme Court ruling. In that ruling, the US Supreme Court said that the burden of proof that age was the reason an employer didn’t hire somebody or didn’t promote somebody never leaves the plaintiff. If you are going to claim age discrimination, you have to have some solid evidence that this actually took place. You can’t just look at statistical evidence, have the court infer from that, and have the defendant prove itself out.

It is no surprise then that older workers are finding essentially inferior jobs. Don’t expect this trend to change anytime soon because, as more and more baby boomers work part-time jobs to supplement their retirement income, there is really not much incentive for employers to boost the wages of older workers.

The big workaround to this is to simply go into a competitive field where there are very few qualified American workers. I am, of course, talking about cloud computing programming, or certain types of computer hardware architecture. Focus on where the hot technological trends are. It is worth getting retrained for those fields.

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