While the recession has caused unemployment rates to soar around the country, the current economic times have been particularly hard on workers age 50 plus. Older workers are finding themselves putting off retirement as they try to rebuild nest eggs or are suddenly unemployed after being with the same company for years.
Adding insult to injury, workers 50 plus also stay unemployed longer than their younger counterparts. In January, workers 55 and older were unemployed for 35.9 weeks while people ages 25 to 54 were unemployed 29.8 weeks, a difference of six weeks.
In some cases, what are stacking up against older workers are some misconceptions that employers have about older employers.
AARP New Mexico is joining forces with the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce to conduct a seminar June 17th for employers on the benefits of retaining and recruiting older workers
“There are a whole slew of myths that some employers have about older workers,” said Beth Velasquez, AARP New Mexico State Associate Director.
A 2007 AARP survey of New Mexico employers indicated that the top five disadvantages they see in older workers are: they are set in their ways, unwilling to change or learn new things; have illness or health-related issues; lack technology skills; have difficulty learning new concepts or technology; and are less flexible than their younger counterparts.
“However, AARP research has shown that some of those concerns are simply inaccurate,” Velasquez said.
“Workers age 50 plus bring experience, dedication, focus, stability and enhanced knowledge to their work. They also have a lower rate of absenteeism, have a stronger work ethic, and demonstrate company loyalty. Plus they are more motivated to exceed expectations on the job than their younger counterparts,” she said.
Employers rank their top five qualities for employees as follows: commitment to doing quality work; ability to get along with co-workers; loyalty and dedication to the company; having someone you can count on in a crisis; and ability to interact well with customers or the public.
“Older workers demonstrate many of the qualities employers seek in their employees making the 50 plus worker an ideal candidate for a job,” Velasquez said.
“What AARP hopes to accomplish is make employers aware of the benefits an older worker can bring to the table and not just dismiss an applicant out of hand because of their age,” she said.
“Employers that have an interest in utilizing older workers can also use our workforce assessment tool to evaluate their future business needs and attract employees of all ages,” Velasquez said.
The tool can be found at www.aarpworkforceassessment.org.
For more information on workers 50 plus visit www.aarp.org/money/work/. To learn more about the AARP employer seminar call Beth at 505-946-3605.