According to AARP, the jobless rate for older Americans dipped slightly in March, and the overall unemployment rate reached its lowest level in four years, largely because the size of the workforce declined to its lowest level in 40 years. That decline may have been due to discouraged workers who stopped looking for a job and therefore were not counted in the unemployment rolls, but it’s still disappointing.
Among workers age 55 or older, AARP states that 51 percent were out of work for six months or more. Last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.8 million adults, age 55-plus, actively sought employment, and nearly half of older workers looking for jobs have been without employment for over a year. Notwithstanding the duration issue, which is bad enough, another significant issue for older workers may be underemployment. Many workers, who formerly had full-time jobs, have taken part-time jobs, or contract jobs, many of which don’t offer health insurance and provide significantly lower salaries than they previously earned.
According to a recent news release from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), that organization, in partnership with the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, recently launched JobSource, a new online portal to help older adults assess their work skills, identify job training opportunities, and find employment.
JobSource (www.benefitscheckup.org/jobsource) includes a quick job match system that enables users to assess their work interests and transferable skills. Users can also register on the site to earn job skills certifications and enroll in over 30 free online courses. JobSource is one of a suite of online tools from NCOA that help older adults to improve their economic security.
NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp (www.BenefitsCheckUp.org) is free online screening service that contains information on thousands of programs available to assist older adults in paying for health care, prescriptions, food, and other necessities.
Another NCOA tool, Home Equity Advisor (www.HomeEquityAdvisor.org), helps older homeowners to assess when and how they may want to use their home equity to age in place.
Easter Seals (www.easterseals.com) operates the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) authorized by the Older Americans Act, which partners with community-based non-profit organizations and government agencies (host agencies) to provide participants with training opportunities to update their skills.
SeniorCare Inc. (www.seniorcareinc.org) offers a drug discount card that may be useful for people who have lost health benefits, or who find themselves within the Medicare D “donut hole.” SeniorCare can also provide information on local resources of all kinds that might be helpful to elders who are caught in the temporary unemployment bind, such as referral to fuel assistance programs, or other small grant programs for health necessities, etc.
AARP has its own jobs portal (jobs.aarp.org/), and a quick search of Gloucester’s zip code resulted in several pages of job opportunities within driving distance of the city.
Simply Hired allows people to search for jobs at companies that are noted as being friendly to older workers (http://www.simplyhired.com/a/special-searches/fifty-plus).
If you are unemployed, changing careers because you don’t want to fully retire, or are coming out of retirement, and are seeking a job, don’t give up! Some of these resources may help, but so does old-fashioned perseverance.
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.