Older Americans are facing age discrimination and working longer anyway

Approximately a fifth of workers age 50 and older feel they’ve been ignored for a promotion or a raise because of their age.

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Older workers want to stay on the job longer, but they face age discrimination and have difficulting getting jobs.

About half (51%) of all adults said older workers often dealt with age discrimination at work, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


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Older workers agreed: just over half (58%) of Americans age 50 and older say that older workers face discrimination in the workplace, and 75% think their own age is a disadvantage when looking for work,

Approximately a fifth of workers age 50 and older feel they’ve been ignored for a promotion or a raise because of their age.

A full 79% of women and 70% of men aged 50 and older said their age made job searching more difficult.

The 2019 Working Longer Survey looks at the effects of the trend of U.S. workers who are opting to stay in the workplace and put off retirement. “Older workers” – meaning those who are 55 or more – have since 2005 comprised a larger share of the labor force than those age 16 to 24.

The survey was conducted online and over the phone with 1,423 adults.

Nearly half of all adults think older Americans working longer is beneficial to the national economy, and 39% think it’s good for workers in general. A third of all workers say it’s good for their career, and 46% view it as good for their workplace culture.

However, things begin to skew when you break those responses down by age and then by education. Not everyone is happy to see older adults staying on in the workforce.

Older Americans, naturally, support the working longer trend: 53% of Americans over age 50 said that working past age 65 was a boon for the economy, and 50% said it was good for workers in general.

Younger Americans see the trend much more negatively: only 38% think it’s good for the economy, and just 30% think it’s good for American workers. (It skews further if you separate by education: 47% of adults under age 50 with at least some college education say that people staying in the workforce past 65 is bad for workers overall, compared with 25% of those under 50 with no college education).

The young-old divide continues: while 51% of workers age 50 and older workers believe that having more older workers in the workforce to be good for their career, and 51% think it’s healthy for workplace culture, fewer young people agree. Among younger workers, only 27% say having more older workers around is good for their career, and 43% see their presence in the workplace as positive for the culture.

When broken down along the lines of education: 37% of workers under age 50 with at least some college say people staying in the workforce is bad for their career, compared with just 20% of young workers with no college education.

No matter how you slice it, being an older worker in the U.S. isn’t easy. Despite all their experience, just 6% of older workers cited their age as an advantage to their career.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.