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Survey shows the uphill battle faced by many older workers

Memories of the recent recession are finally starting to fade for many people thanks to the nation's sustained economic recovery, particularly in relation to the job market. Indeed, data from the U.S. Labor Department shows that roughly 250,000 jobs were added every month in 2014, marking the highest rate of job growth in nearly two decades.

As impressive as this is, a recent survey shows that at least one group of Americans is still experiencing considerable difficulty finding not just suitable employment, but any employment whatsoever.

The survey, conducted by the AARP, asked 2,492 people between the ages of 45-70 who had lost their job at some point during the previous five years about their experiences landing employment in the post-recession U.S.

Somewhat shockingly, the researchers found that 50 percent of these respondents were still unemployed or had elected to exit the workforce altogether. This despite the fact that the Labor Department has determined that people 65 and older have a lower overall unemployment rate -- 4.4 percent versus 5.5 percent for the entire U.S. market.

“Older workers are less likely to become unemployed, but if they are unemployed they are more likely to get stuck in unemployment for long periods,” said one DOL economist. “We are potentially seeing the fingerprints of age discrimination here.”

Indeed, it's worth noting that 57 percent of the respondents who were still unemployed expressed their belief that they weren't finding work because "employers think I am too old."

As for the remainder, the researchers discovered that 48 percent had found new jobs over the last five years, but were earning less money than they had in their previous position.

Breaking these numbers down further, the AARP survey found the following:

  • 53 percent of these reemployed older workers were working in different occupations.
  • 34 percent of these reemployed older workers were in part-time positions.
  • 47 percent of these reemployed older workers in part-time positions indicated that they preferred full-time work.

While there may be other some other factors behind some of these numbers, it's plain to see that many employers are potentially discriminating against employees because of their age. However, it's important for those who believe they were victimized by age discrimination to remember that they do have rights and they do have options.

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