The economic picture right now is bleak, jobs are scarce and we might be heading for another recession (who knew when the first one was over!). The unemployment picture is bad for everyone, especially those who are trying to find work after the age of fifty. There must be something about being over the age of fifty that scares some people. But what is really interesting is the fact that the population as a whole is becoming older which means there will be quite a few older workers in the near future.

So why is age such a barrier to employment? Who made the rule that employer shouldn’t hire older workers.  Unfortunately there are many myths about older workers that many employers have bought in to.

Probably the greatest myth about older workers is that their health is a liability and that older folks will miss a lot of work. There hasn’t been any studies done that have proven this theory. In fact as people get older they tend to be more concerned about their health.

They are unable to learn new skills. Sadly some folks still believe in the saying “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” of course that isn’t true. Just because someone is over the age of fifty doesn’t mean that dementia suddenly sets in or that their mind is unable to handle any new concepts. Skills can be learned at any age. As a matter of fact older people are the fastest growing group to use the internet.

Older workers wouldn’t stay at a job as long as younger workers.

When you are younger you tend to be less stable and more inclined to hop from one job to another, whereas the over fifty crowd tends to be more stable in their careers and since the economy is the way it is you shouldn’t worry about the older workers leaving.

Older workers will get hurt on the job more easily than their younger counterparts. Once again there is no evidence to support this claim. Of course there is also the great fear that they will get hurt and sue the company. If anything older workers are probably more careful than their younger counterparts.

And if you are over fifty and trying to find work there is one thing to keep in mind. Age discrimination is against the law. If you feel that you have been discriminated against go to your local labor board and file a complaint.

Ed Smith blogs about unemployment issues among older workers

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