U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 5%. For women over 50, the picture is not so sunny.
Bleak Job Outlook for Women 50+
FINDING A DECENT JOB IS HARDER FOR WOMEN 50+
According to a recent study, half the women 50+ who are unemployed are long-term unemployed. And we know it’s not just their age that’s to blame, because men of the same age are doing a lot better.
Women and care-taking labor. Most women spend a good portion of their lives outside the labor market taking care of family, taking care of children. This kind of labor has always been under-valued in our society and, from the point of view of the labor market, considered next to worthless. Men are much more likely to have spent their entire adult lives earning money in the labor market, which makes a much better impression when they go job hunting.
Women’s economic value is considered less than men’s. Women as a group tend to get paid less than men, even when they are doing the same work. In our culture, we tend to value people based on their earning power. Therefore, because women are paid less, they are valued less. And visa versa. Kind of a catch-22 dilemma.
Stratified employment practices. In most U.S. industries, employment is stratified by sex and race. In healthcare, for example, you tend to have white male administrators and/or surgeons in the top jobs. Minorities tend to be at the very bottom. Women are also towards the bottom.
WHEN DOES AGEISM KICK IN?
In general, people in their mid-40s are considered old in the work world. Why? Because that’s when people stop getting wage increases, according to a 2015 Federal Reserve study. From 45 to 55, wages decrease by 9% and, from 55 to 65, by another 9%.
For women, however, age discrimination begins at 35, at least for entry jobs. Reasons given by prospective employers include:
• Not good at technology
• No computer skills
• Not active
• Not willing to embrace change
• Employer might get sued for age discrimination if applicant gets fired
BLACK WOMEN OVER 50
Unemployment for black people in all categories has been twice as bad as it is for nonblacks.
“In (2015’s) better economy, African-Americans (saw) minimal gains.”
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Technology and computer skills can be acquired. If you have any leanings in this direction, take a course and acquire the basic skills. And by the way, your spelling and grammar skills will probably be vastly superior to the competition’s.
Stay in shape. Work out in a gym, walk the dog, do yoga, but stay active.
Network, network, network. Now’s the time to call in those favors, contact old and new friends, go to meetings and meet-ups. Investigate networking online. You never know which contact may pay off.
Be professional, and make it clear that you’re looking for a long-term position.
CONSIDER JOINING A WOMAN’S ACTION GROUP
Ours is still a patriarchal society, largely run by men for the benefit of men. Look into groups like now.org that advocate for a wide range of economic issues affecting women, from the “glass ceiling” to poverty. These can include welfare reform, living wages, job discrimination, pay equity, and more. Commit yourself to being part of the solution instead of one of the problem’s victims.
For more information:
• nytimes.com - females and joblessness
• pbs.org - age discrimination in the workplace
• now.org - economic justice
• pbs.org - over 50 and can't find jobs
• stlouisfed.org - older women and long term unemployment
• ibtimes.com - african americans see minimal gains