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Age discrimination is not a new phenomenon. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on this serious problem that affects workers age 50-plus. The third survey in the Work & Jobs Data Series explores where age discrimination exists for adults age 50-plus in the labor force. 

Age discrimination creates obstacles to getting hired.

The demand for skilled workers is providing the workforce with leverage to seek jobs with the flexibility and growth opportunities they desire. But for some workers age 50-plus, looking for a job or going through the interview process may be hindering their ability to land a job. Nearly one in six adults currently working or looking for work (15%)  report that they were not hired for a job they applied for within the past two years because of their age. Among recent job seekers, 53% were asked by an employer to provide their birth date during the application or interview process, and 47% were asked to provide a graduation date.

Age discrimination exists in the workplace.

Research shows that about two in three adults age 50-plus in the labor force  (62%) think older workers face discrimination in the workplace today based on age. And among them, nearly all (93%) believe that age discrimination against older workers is common in the workplace today. Roughly one third (32%) of older adults in the labor force report that in the last two years they heard negative comments in the workplace about an older co-worker's age. One in six (17%) say that they have been the recipient of negative comments about their age at work. Just over one in ten have been passed up for a promotion or chance to get ahead because of their age (13%). 

Most turn to friends or family when experiencing age discrimination.

One in five adults age 50-plus (21%) report that they have experienced age discrimination since turning 40 years old. Age discrimination was defined as “treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age.” Respondents are more likely to talk with friends or family than a coworker, supervisor, or Human Resources when experiencing age discrimination. Among those age 50-plus who were not hired for a job because of their age, respondents were more than twice as likely to talk with a friend or family member (37%) versus a coworker (16%) or supervisor (11%). For those who did not take any action (i.e., talk with someone or make a formal complaint), the main reason was that they didn't think it would make a difference.

The survey reveals strong support for change with about nine in ten adults age 50-plus (89%) agreeing that older Americans should be protected from age discrimination. In addition, nine in ten (92%) support (with over half saying strongly support) efforts to strengthen the nation's age discrimination laws. 


Interviews were conducted in three waves: March 24–28, 2022, April 22–26, 2022, and May 19–23, 2022, among 2,945 U.S. adults age 50-plus in the Foresight 50+ Omnibus. This included 1,340 who were in the labor force (i.e., either working or looking for work). Funded and operated by NORC at the University of Chicago, Foresight 50+ is a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population age 50 or older. Interviews were conducted online and via phone. All data are weighted by age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, and AARP membership.

For more information about this survey, please contact Lona Choi-Allum at  For media inquiries, contact External Relations at

Suggested citation:

Choi-Allum, Lona. Age Discrimination Among Workers Age 50-Plus. Washington, DC: AARP Research, July 2022.

Share Your Story

Many who experience age discrimination at work or in a job search suffer in silence. It’s time to fight back. Please share your story with AARP so we can fight to ensure more workers like you are treated fairly based on your qualifications, not your age. 

Your story matters. The more we call out age discrimination when we see it, the more we can demand a level playing field for all workers.

Share your story here.

Read the Detailed Findings


About the Series

In 2022, AARP Research began sharing workforce trends on a variety of topics as they relate to workers age 50 and over. A new topic is highlighted every two months, and data for each topic are gathered through a nationally representative online survey with results posted in an annotated questionnaire. Each survey topic will be refielded every six to eight months to gather trend data. 

Results will be available for public use. 

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