Your Money ;
; Many older workers are jobless for more than a year.
; Their unemployment rate has doubled.
; Can they break the age barrier in the workplace?
‘Will I Ever
STRESSED Despite 36 years of banking experience and 250 applications, Alejandra Men- doza, 57, hasn’t found a job in a year. Health insurance is a big worry.
When the rumored pink slips finally landed at a midsize bank in Dallas,
half the staff was wiped out. Alejandra Mendoza, one of the supervisors they let go, figured she’d find
something soon enough.
How hard could it be to get back
to work, she thought. She had 36
years of banking operations experience. Her professional reputation
Yet a year later, Mendoza, 57, is
still jobless. Nearly 250 applications
have yielded two interviews and no
offers. She finds herself a statistic in
a dispiriting trend: The unemployment crisis gripping the nation has
fallen particularly hard on older
“I really, really wish I could find
something, even part time. It’s
been very frustrating and stressful,”
Mendoza says in the four-bedroom
home in a Dallas suburb where she
raised her now-grown children.
The jobless rate for people 55 and
over remains lower than it is for the
total labor force— 6. 9 percent vs. 9.1
percent. That said, older workers
are losing their jobs at a faster rate
than the overall labor force; and
joblessness for them has more than
By Faye Fiore
doubled since the recession began
almost four years ago, according to
the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And the longer they are out of
work, the harder it is for people
over 55 to find something new. Government figures for August showed
that younger job seekers had been
without work for nine months on
average; for older workers, the duration was roughly a year.
“It’s always been harder for older
workers to find jobs, but it’s much
more difficult now,” says Sara Rix,
senior strategic policy adviser at
AARP. Many think they may never
Given the choice, older workers
have been opting since the 1980s to
delay retirement, either for financial reasons or because they like
working. But downsizing and layoffs are forcing scads of them into
retirement before they are ready.
Mark Krieger, 61, was earning six
figures as a business systems architect at a credit card processing firm
near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when he
was laid off a year ago.
He’s healthy, at the top of his game,
but found getting interviews difficult. To make ends meet, he sold his
house. “Obviously I can contribute,”