Survey highlights value, pitfalls of older workers

According to a new AARP survey of experienced workers, nearly 90 percent work for financial reasons, and approximately 80 either enjoy or feel useful doing their work. And among those who plan to retire, about 1 in 4 plans to start a business or earn money in some independent way, such as a gig economy job. Given employers’ need for talent, it makes great business sense to hire experienced workers, researchers said.

“With rich work histories, varied experiences and expertise, older workers want to work, they’re ready to work, and they need to work,” said Susan Weinstock, an AARP vice president. “More employers are looking for qualified candidates, and experienced workers should have the opportunity to be judged on their merits, rather than their age.”

The survey revealed many experienced workers face adversity in their job hunt or place of employment, such as:

  • More than 90 percent see age discrimination as somewhat or very common.
  • 61 percent report they’ve seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and of those concerned about losing their job in the next year, 34 percent list age discrimination as a reason.
  • 44 percent of older job applicants say they have been asked for age-related information from a potential employer.
  • 3 percent report they have made a formal complaint about age discrimination.
  • 59 percent strongly support strengthening age discrimination laws.

To highlight job opportunities among 50-plus workers, AARP launched an employer pledge for companies that hire workers based on ability, regardless of age. Since 2013, 650 employers have signed the pledge.

Weinstock said AARP also continues to educate employers about the value of older workers and the benefits of a multi-generational workforce.

But, she lamented, with 27 percent of 55-plus workers suffering long-term unemployment compared to 18.percent of 16 to 54-year-olds, “the long-term unemployment disparity suggests that entrenched age-bias still exists in the workplace.”