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I am a multimedia journalist currently working as a Senior Web Journalist/ Videographer with Khaleej Times in Dubai, UAE. Prior to this, I worked as a news editor with CNN’s Indian affiliate in Noida. I graduated from Syracuse University in New York state in 2012 with a Masters degree in Broadcast and Digital journalism. I have worked in video production, online journalism, features writing and market research over a period of four years.

Unemployment among Older workers at Record High

Older workers, the hardest hit victims of bad economy

By Nilanjana Gupta (SYRACUSE) – According to the US Bureau of labor statistics, this year the unemployment rate of workers older than 55 is 7% which is more than twice the rate in 2007. Older persons who do become unemployed spend 52.9 weeks looking for jobs as compared to only about 37.3 weeks for younger workers.

An Older Worker’s Struggle for finding a Job

Keith Chatterton has been out of job since November 2008 © 2011 Nilanjana Gupta

61-year-old Keith Chatterton has a daily routine. He drives his wife to work. Then he takes his dog for a walk. And then he checks his computer for anything new on the job sites. Chatterton hasn’t been to work for 3 years after being laid off. He says his biggest problem is boredom.

“It’s brutal… he [His dog] wont talk back to me… He is friendly as I will get him.. But he doesn’t talk… So when I am out, If I find somebody on the streets I verbally accost people just to talk to people… And I have joined a gym… and I am really grateful for the interaction with people that I have,” Chatterton said.

Chatterton was working for a metal building company in Rome, and on November 5, 2008 he was laid off – the day after Barack Obama was elected president. Ever since then he has been networking, browsing Internet for openings, attending job fairs and sending out thousands of resumes. But he has never got a call back.

“I got the experience… I know the territory, I know the people… I am not afraid to travel… I am not afraid to knock on doors… What is it? It’s this – my age.. Or anything else?” Chatterton said.

Chatterton has applied to all kinds of jobs – even truck driving, security, and supermarkets. But now he says he has no expectations. He is looking forward to next spring, that’s when he starts to get social security benefits. For bow, Chatterton is relying on his wife’s income.

‘Companies prefer Younger people over their Older counterparts’

Dr Alejandro Garcia teaches in the School of Social Work at Syracuse University. He said companies have biases against older workers – they are not as productive, they are not good learners. But he said that’s not true. He said older workers tend to be more dependable than younger workers.

Dr Garcia said companies may not prefer older employees because of economic reasons.

“The cost to them of hiring an older worker… Older workers cost more for health insurance benefits because they are more likely to use their health benefits… Simply because of chronic illnesses that accompany older workers,” Dr Garcia said.

The Age Discrimination and Employment Act passed in 1967 allows equal opportunities for older workers. But even then Dr Garcia said employers are dismissing older workers or are failing to hire them.

“If you dismiss them before they retire, and you don’t have to pay retirement,” Dr Garcia said. “And if you hire older workers, they will work for a short period of time before they too will be wanting retirement benefits.”

Dr Garcia said the government needs to pay some incentives to those companies so that they keep older workers.

He said older workers should seek more sedentary jobs such as those in retail sales, teaching and healthcare.

Click here to get the latest report about their employment status.

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