May 31, 2011
Older Workers Behind the 8 Ball
Rudy Limas, a laid-off truck driver, resorted to applying for unskilled labor jobs – anything to get back to work and support his family.
“They look at your age and think, ‘He can’t handle it’ – even though I can,” the 61-year-old Oregon resident said. “They look at your age [and] they’re not going to hire you.””
Limas’ video interview, included in the online project, “Over 50 and Out of Work,” was selected by Squared Away for a series about the particular financial issues facing people approaching retirement age who lose their jobs.
Limas’ grim assessment was accurate for the nearly two million Americans over age 55 who are currently unemployed.
More than 40 percent of unemployed workers in their 50s and more than half of those 62 and older are unable to find work within six months of becoming unemployed, according to a January report by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.
This contrasts with about 30 percent of the unemployed in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who don’t find a new job within six months.
Limas’ search was even tougher because he is Latino. Latinos are 25 percent less likely to return to work than whites they compete with in the job market; African-Americans are 32 percent less likely to find work, the report said.
Limas did eventually find employment, as a parts maker for a medical supplier, after local media interviewed him, according to “Over 50.”
But at a stage in their lives when people ideally should be financially secure and preparing for retirement, he worried for months that he could no longer pay his mortgage when his unemployment benefits ran out.
It was a setback for a man born into a migrant family who started out picking apples, beans, strawberries – “you name it” – and worked his way up the economic ladder. He owned his own rig for several years.
Visit “Over 50 and Out of Work,” which videotaped 100 people around the country.