What older workers should know about unemployment, returning to work

Posted at 1:39 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 23:19:20-04

The coronavirus is taking a big toll on older workers.

Based on research from AARP, 30 percent of older workers have lost income or their job because of the pandemic. That’s left many worried about trying to get a new job once they can go back to work.

“From the previous recession, we know that [for older workers] who lost their jobs, it took double the time to find a new job than a younger worker, so it's going to be harder,” said Susan Weinstock, AARP’s vice president of financial resilience.

Weinstock says that’s why older workers may want to consider learning a new skill.

“Now might be a great time, if they’re at home, to think about taking a class online. The Virginia Community College system is a great place - if you’re over, I think it’s 65 in Virginia, you can take classes at community colleges for free,” Weinstock said.

The Virginia Senior Citizens Higher Education Act allows Virginia residents who are 60 years of age or older to take college courses at public colleges and universities without paying tuition.

You should also be updating your resume.

Weinstock says it should be no more than two pages, and you don’t need to include an objective.

She also says you don’t need to list 30 years of experience: stick with just 10 to 15 years of experience that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Once employers can start rehiring, Weinstock says they need to think about diversity beyond race and gender.

“All very important, but age should be part of that diversity as well. We know from research that multi-generational work forces are more productive. They have deeper engagement from employees and they have lower absenteeism,” said Weinstock.

Until people can get back to work, Weinstock says it’s important to know what benefits are available.

In Virginia, you can file for unemployment benefits through the Virginia Employment Commission.

Normally, you would get around 26 weeks of unemployment, but the CARES Act passed by Congress adds an additional 13 weeks for a total of 39.

There’s also an additional $600 per week benefit.

For more resources for older workers, click here.

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