Are Idahoans Facing Age Discrimination in the Workforce?

Jul 06, 2012, 12:22 ET from AARP Idaho

Unemployed Over 20 Weeks Longer than Younger Workers, New AARP Report Finds Many of 50+ Feel Age Discrimination is a Reality

BOISE, Idaho, July 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many of the roughly 4.3% unemployed older workers in Idaho may feel they know exactly why they "just didn't get the job:" age discrimination.  On the heels of the June jobs reports, a new AARP report, conducted by GS Strategy Group in Boise, finds the majority of the nation's 50+ are concerned their age could be a barrier keeping them from finding a job.     

Once out of a job, it takes older workers much longer than their younger counterparts to find one.  According to an AARP analysis of the jobs report, in June, the average duration of unemployment for older workers was over a year, 55.6 weeks (down from 56 weeks in May), compared to younger workers, whose unemployment time lasted about 35.2 weeks (down from 38.5 weeks in May).  The gap between age groups finding jobs continues to widen, with younger workers becoming employed over 20 weeks sooner than their older counterparts in June, up two weeks from May.

"If Idahoans 50 and older are anything like their counterparts across the nation, we know age discrimination is likely something going through their minds when they receive a rejection letter to their job application," said Mark Estess, State Director for AARP in Idaho. 

The AARP public opinion report finds that 77% of the nation's 50+ think age would be an obstacle if they had to find a new job in the current economic climate.  Based on what they've seen and heard, 64% of respondents think people over the age of 50 experience age discrimination in the workplace, while 34% say they've seen it firsthand.

The report also finds overwhelming support (78% of respondents) for bipartisan legislation to combat age discrimination in the workplace. A 2009 US Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult for workers to prove age discrimination, changing the rules so workers had to prove age was the decisive factor as opposed to one factor, posing a higher burden of proof from other types of discrimination (race, sex, nationality and religion). 

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), would change the rules for age discrimination back.  AARP strongly backs the legislation, currently working its way through Congress, and is urging the public to contact their Members of Congress on the issue:

Other findings from the AARP report:

  • 16% of respondents who were retired have returned to work.
  • Only 29% feel they are close to having enough money to retire.
  • 92% of respondents agree older Americans have to work longer to make ends meet or save money for retirement.
  • 92% feel the high cost of gas, health care, food and housing requires many Americans to work longer to rebuild retirement savings.

The full AARP report can be found online:

AARP has 180,000 members in Idaho.

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About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, our bilingual multimedia platform for Hispanic members; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.