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Older Women Take the Brunt of Unemployment Numbers in the U.S.

(Listen to this story on, from their Morning Edition show)
In a story featured on National Public Radio this week, the topic of unemployment rates was “top dog”. For many folks who are victims of the recession (or “mancession” as NPR put it due to the fact that the biggest job losses have happened to men), the picture is bleak, especially for older women. Particularly vulnerable, they say, are the women of the Baby Boomer generation – those who are between the ages of 45 and 64. Here are their findings and what employers can do to help.
Labor Department Statistics
The number of women in the Baby Boomer generation who are suffering from long-term unemployment (longer than 6 months) is astonishing. This number has “more than doubled in the past year” to a staggering 900,000. That number is still growing they say. Women in this age group typically have adult or near-adult aged children, many of them are single, and some are newly divorced. This puts them in an especially precarious financial situation, especially when they add unemployment into the mix.
A Personal Story of Survival
Barbara Bosch is featured in this NPR piece and tells an all-too-familiar story for many women in her same age group. She lost her job as a bookkeeper in July of 2008 and never thought she would have trouble finding more work. After all, she had never been without work in the past. By the end of the first month, she had not yet found work and felt that something had changed…for the worse.
She continually utilized the Internet, on a daily basis, to find work from employment sites and CraigsList. She also explored temporary agency work that presented itself. But still no call backs and no opportunities for employment screening and a criminal background check.
She began to identify a pattern after going to almost a dozen interviews; everyone was younger than her. Though she cannot prove that ageism was the main factor in her not getting hired, her gut feeling is that that is the precise reason she does not have a job to this day. “And I'm looking at them thinking, well, I don't really look that old — at all. And I think I fit in with no problem." But it still bothers her that she never got any call backs. She can’t even get to the employment screening and criminal background check point in the hiring process.
Time for a New Career
“Desperate times call for desperate measures” as the saying goes. And for Barbara Bosch, that couldn’t be truer. She decided to make a dramatic shift in her career and is now training to be a Licensed Vocational Nurse. She feels confident that ageism will no longer be a factor in her ability to find work. Yet, as she gets educated in her new field, she struggles financially. "I need to live in order to have a roof over my head," Bosch says. "I have to financially be able to take of myself. I don't have anybody else to fall on."
Stay Afloat No Matter What
Whether you’re an unemployed Human Resources Professional or simply dealing with the tight economy by implementing a hiring freeze, this story rings true to many. Don’t fail to plan when it comes to being prepared for whatever the economy hands to you. Get educated on a continual basis and always be prepared to hire women with more experience (i.e., age) to get the best results for your next open position.


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