By Annalyn Kurtz
On one hand, they’re too young to retire. They may also be too old to get re-hired. Call them the “new unemployables,” say researchers at Boston College.
Older workers were less likely to lose their jobs during the recession, but those who were laid off are facing far tougher conditions than their younger colleagues. Workers in their fifties are about 20 percent less likely than workers ages 25 to 34 to become re-employed, according to an Urban Institute study published last year.
“Once you leave the job market, trying to get back in it is a monster,” said Mary Clair Matthews, 58, who has teetered between bouts of unemployment and short temp jobs for the last five years. She applies for jobs every week, but most of the time, her applications hit a brick wall.
Employers rarely get back to her, and when they do she’s often told she is “overqualified” for the position. Sometimes she wonders: Is that just a euphemism for too old?
Her resume shows she has more than 30 years of experience working as a teacher, librarian, academic administrator and fundraiser for nonprofits. “I’ve thought about taking 10 years off my resume,” she said. “It’s not like we’re senile. The average age of Congress is something like 57. Joe Biden is 70. Ronald Reagan was in his 70s when he was president. So what’s the problem?”