Why can’t older generations land jobs?

Posted at 12:21 PM, Aug 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-07 04:22:49-04

NORFOLK, Va. -  Age plus work experience equals - a good job candidate, right?

Marilyn Garfin would disagree with that simple phrase.

"I must have sent my resume out to 50 to 100 different companies," she said.

Garfin said the struggle is real for unemployed seniors, as she has been job hunting for more than a year.

"It's very upsetting because I really and truly want to work, I don't care if it's part-time or full-time," she said.

Garfin has worked all her life; she was the former owner of The New York Deli in Portsmouth, and she and her husband, Stan Garfin, owned a direct mail marketing business before they both retired.

Now Marilyn wants to jump back into the workforce. She thought that having run a restaurant working 16 hours a day would demonstrate her work ethic, but she is not getting any call backs. She believes that once employers see the year she graduated high school, they just move on.

BarBara Murphy, heads up the Norfolk-based AARP foundation, a non-profit that advocates for seniors. The Senior Community Service Employment Program provides work-based training to unemployed older Americans (55+) who are at or below $13,613 of the federal poverty line.

Even with training and job placement, Murphy will tell you it's still a challenge to place senior workers.

"Age discrimination unfortunately still exists," she said.

In December 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an uptick in senior unemployment. Though the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged, the number of unemployed persons ages 55 and up increased to 1.2 million, up from 1.1 million in November 2017.

Murphy said some employers think since the workers have been out, they don't have skills and abilities for today's marketplace. To combat that way of thinking, the AARP Foundation, funded by a federal grant, provides lower-income seniors classes, training and job placement.

Unfortunately for Garfin, her income disqualifies her from the program. She is in that gray area of making too much for the program but not enough for her own needs.

All Garfin wants from a potential employer is to look at the person, not the age.

"I feel like I do have a lot to offer, I really do," she said.