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After a layoff, age bias can make it hard to start over

Starting over and looking for a new job after a layoff is difficult for anyone. Especially for those who have spent a substantial portion of their careers with a single employer, the transition from a well-paid, senior position to applying for jobs at the bottom of a new organization can be daunting. Add to that equation that many workers who are laid off from higher paying positions are older and perhaps near retirement, and a good outcome becomes even harder to find.

A recent poll from the Pew Research Center showed that workers aged 55 and older were more at-risk for long term unemployment than younger workers.

The story of one Pennsylvania woman showcases how age bias and discrimination can have devastating effects for workers faced with starting over mid-career. The woman told reporters that she was fired from her Philadelphia law firm where she had worked as a legal secretary for over 11 years. Her 2009 termination came along with 52 others who were let go because of budget shortfalls.

Now, she struggles to find freelance work to make ends meet and avoid draining her retirement savings and facing foreclosure on her home. She has been to 60 job interviews to no avail and is now looking for work in other industries. She said that her many years of experience are now hurting her, since she began her job hunt looking for a higher salary than younger, less experienced workers.

What do you think - is this age discrimination? Or just the harsh reality of a recession job market?

Source: The Washington Times, "The Mean Economy: Even law firms hit hard by recession," Patrice Hill, August 27, 2012.

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