The New York Times had the bright idea of following up with some 50-something job-seekers reporter Michael Winerip met at a job fair a year ago. Winerip finds they’re doing terrible.
“Of the 16 I interviewed again, 9 describe themselves as still struggling,” writes Winerip. “Eight continue to be unemployed or are working part-time jobs that pay near minimum wage.”
A former tech supervisor who was “earning a six-figure salary” is tending bar 18 hours a week, which sounds like a five-figure salary at best. Also, his marriage broke up. A compliance officer is walking dogs.
A former buyer for a video company now labors as closing manager at a supermarket — which in this context is a success story, as it “pays more than his old position.” One woman was just hired by a publishing company, which is news all by itself.
Generally the geezers put their troubles down to the lousy economy and their age — “several were so concerned about bias, they did not want to give their age.”
Which is understandable; while young indigents may still obtain work as baristas or prostitutes, those of us over the wrinkle line are shit out of luck. The Times had a forum on this last year, which was not encouraging to the paper’s many Large Type Edition readers. The experts’ advice boiled down to: Be grateful for any job, no matter how badly it pays. While “older workers have less absenteeism and are more reliable,” said one, “a prospective employer in a recession may value these talents and virtues; but, they won’t want to pay for them.”
Even the exhortations of paid counselors specializing in older workers are depressing. “If you’re over 40 and unemployed, don’t despair,” says Live Career. “Seek out companies that embrace older workers: The CVS drugstore chain is one example, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.” If CVS won’t give you a cash register to work, “consider starting your own business,” says Live Career, “and in the ultimate twist — think about starting a business that targets other older workers as customers or employees.” Then, on the frequent slow days, you can sit around on folding chairs and talk about your prostates.
About the best news for the old and unemployed is that they are less likely to be raped in hobo encampments, and that the sweet relief of death is near. As for us, we’re in journalism — we haven’t that far to fall.