Is Age Discrimination Real or Just an Excuse?

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While it is difficult to actually prove age discrimination or get a real feel for how often it happens, there is definitely a perception among people across all demographics that age does play a part in the hiring process.  One poll shows that 63 percent of older Americans claim that they have personally experienced age discrimination.[i]  Another survey finds that 74 percent of people think that employers do look at age as a factor when choosing the right candidate.

The good news is that while age discrimination is most certainly a real occurrence that should be monitored and combatted, it might not be as prevalent as a lot of us perceive it to be.  Take a look at unemployment numbers:

 

Unemployment Rate in January 2013 (percent, seasonally adjusted)

All

Gender

Age

Race

Ethnicity

Male

Female

16-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55+

White

African American

Asian

Hispanic

7.9

8.0

7.8

16.8

7.7

6.5

6.0

6.0

7.0

13.8

6.3

9.7

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

People 45 and over actually have the lowest rate of unemployment.  While these numbers don’t give us any indication of whether it is harder for baby boomers to get a new job after a loss of employment, it does seem to illustrate that things might not be as bad as we think.

Baby Boomer Worker

Another reassuring sign that older workers are not being undervalued or swept aside in favor of younger employees comes from an article entitled “Some Employers See Perks of Hiring Older Workers.”  As David Mintz, CEO of Tofutti puts it, “There’s no experience like experience.  I can’t put an ad saying, ‘Older people wanted,’ but there’s no comparison.”

 

The article also mentions that 200 major employers “have signed an AARP pledge recognizing the value of experienced workers and vowing to consider applicants 50 and older.”  So even while people continue to perceive age discrimination as a pervasive problem, companies are taking significant steps to make sure that capitalize on the unmatched experience that those over the age of 50 have to offer.

Be sure to read the original article and weigh in with your thoughts.  Have you experienced age discrimination?  Do you feel that you have had trouble getting hired because of your age?



[i] Span, Paula.  “Age Discrimination Takes its Toll.”  The New York Times, 12 January 2012.  Web.  9 September 2013.  http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/age-discrimination-takes-its-toll/

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