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Age Bias Could Lead to Job Loss This Year, Many Workers Fear

AARP survey finds that older workers are worried about job security

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En español | Sixty-one percent of older workers who are worried they could lose their jobs this year believe that age would be a contributing factor, according to a recent survey from AARP.

Since last March, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unemployment to soar across all age groups. But older workers may face particular challenges. For example, while the jobless rate for all workers held steady from November to December at 6.7 percent, the rate for workers age 55 and older actually increased, from 5.8 percent in November to 6.0 percent the following month.

To learn more about how older workers feel about the challenges they face in this job market, AARP Research conducted an online survey of 1,052 adults ages 40 to 65 between Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, 2020. Each respondent first stated that they were facing job uncertainty in 2021, either because they were currently unemployed or because they were concerned they could lose a job, be temporarily laid off or furloughed, have their hours reduced, or need upskilling to keep their current job.

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In addition to finding that 61 percent of this group thought age bias might contribute to them losing their job this year, the survey results show that:

  • 74 percent of respondents think they would have to learn new skills to get a new job;
  • 56 percent of the respondents who are currently unemployed worry that their age would limit their opportunities to find a job;
  • 47 percent of women think age bias might affect their job search, while only 41 percent of men worry about this possibility;
  • 44 percent of respondents haven't had a job interview in more than five years; and
  • 35 percent haven't searched for a job in more than five years.

"We know that the pandemic has been very hard on older workers,” says Susan Weinstock, AARP's vice president of financial resilience. “In fact, almost half of those age 55+ are considered long-term unemployed because they have been out of work for six months or more."

AARP has resources and information that can help older adults looking for a job. The organization is hosting an Online Career Expo from 1-4 p.m. ET on Jan. 28. That event will offer webinars about job hunting, remote work and part-time work as well as networking opportunities.

AARP also offers a Job Board, with thousands of listings nationwide, and the Resume Advisor service, which can help older workers improve their social media profiles, résumés and cover letters.