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Older Workers Finding it Tougher to Bounce Back from Recession

Blogs from September, 2013

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The Great Recession hit everyone hard‚ and it seems we’re all still trying to regain our financial footing.

However‚ there are those who have found the road to recovery a bit bumpier than others‚ and our Woodland Hills bankruptcy attorneys understand that includes laid off or unemployed baby boomers.

It’s a growing segment of the population increasingly beset by age discrimination in the workplace. The job market is competitive. But despite state and federal laws that bar employers from using one’s age as a basis for turning away applicants or taking adverse action against older workers‚ it’s becoming a major problem.

Case-in-point‚ chronicled recently by The New York Times‚ is a supermarket chain executive in New Jersey who founded a volunteer networking organization for jobless‚ white-collar baby boomers – only to find himself among those ranks‚ laid off last October. Just before turning 57‚ he was given a pink slip. That was 10 months‚ 400 applications and 10 interviews ago. He’s back to living with mother‚ an 88-year-old with health issues. He too lost his health insurance. After suffering a heart attack in July‚ he’s also now grappling with nearly $172‚000 in medical debt for a week-long hospital stay.

There are many people who can relate: Middle-aged-and-older white-collar workers who lost their jobs in the aftermath and have not been able to catch a break since. The longer they go without employment‚ the tougher it is to get a new job – and the age discrimination certainly doesn’t help.

While age discrimination is‚ of course‚ illegal‚ that doesn’t stop employers from doing it‚ primarily because older workers tend to command higher salaries and because discrimination can be hard to prove. The battle just got tougher with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision‚ Gross v. FBL Financial Services‚ which held workers have to prove that but for discrimination‚ the adverse action wouldn’t have been taken. That’s a tough standard – and companies know it.

Of those older workers who have been lucky enough to land a job‚ two-thirds are making less than they did in their previous post. The median income loss is about 18 percent‚ compared to younger workers‚ whose median income drop was less than 7 percent.

Consider too that while 20- to 54-year-olds have a re-employment rate of about 62 percent‚ that rate drops to about 45 percent for 55- to 65-year-olds and all the way down to 24 percent for those older than 65. And while finding a new job took the average 16 to 20-year-old about 20 weeks‚ it took more than 45 weeks for older workers.

Many have children and even in some cases parents to support – obligations that may hinder their ability to bounce back and with which many younger workers simply don’t have to contend.

Before you dip into your retirement savings‚ consider meeting first with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. It may be that there are other debt resolutions that could make more sense in your situation‚ but when you are struggling with these kinds of financial burdens‚ all options should be fully explored.

If you are contemplating bankruptcy in Woodland Hills‚ contact Cal West Law to schedule your free consultation. Call (800) 568-0707.

Additional Resources:
Set Back by Recession‚ and Shut Out of Rebound‚ Aug. 26‚ 2013‚ By Michael Winerip‚ The New York Times

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