Saturday, April 19, 2014

Get Old With Me

Old? Well you are if you are over 45 in this county.  Hey it used to be 30.

I am not ashamed of my age, nor my wisdoms. See the "s" its plural as I have more than one. I am also quite a contemporary alive person.  I am pretty hip to the jive.  Oh wait maybe that is not the au courant expression of today's millennial.

I spend most of my time with young people because people my age are "old" And by old I mean with children, house payments and other responsibilities that come with age.  I miss them. I would go to the ends of the earth to have a meaningful conversation with anyone frankly who has a brain.  Not a half a brain but a fully operational one that is full of anything, shit even, as that would mark some humor and personality.

But what the real problem here is stupidity.  Americans are stupid.  And young people think that since they carry their smarts in their pocket as in their ass they are smarter, better and brighter than the old fart with the kid and debt in the corner.  Hey at least we didn't pay 6 figures for our education!

Three articles that basically say all of this and remind you that when you are "old" in this country they want you dead.  Who "they" are is unclear. But it has to do with "entitlements" "jobs" "the environment" or well taking up space.

Still alive, still kicking and by that I mean the shit out of the stupids, regardless of generation.

Older and Out of Work, but Not Out of Contention

MARCH 30, 2014

On Thursday, the 10 graduates celebrated over spoonfuls of yellow cake with chocolate icing. They hugged, cheered and promised to stay connected, fortifying themselves for the rough road ahead.

This was no ordinary graduation: The youngest to receive a certificate was 50. The oldest was 74. They had college degrees, decades of experience and had all savored sweet success in their careers.

What they didn’t have was work.

Our churning, unsettled economy knocked them right out of their professional lives: Joyce Fish, a creative director, once oversaw art and photo shoots for retailers like Net-a-Porter, J. Jill and Macy’s. Susan Pearlstein worked as an accounts receivable manager in the food industry. Sharon Cabelly was a senior medical secretary and a patient advocate in local hospitals.

The women are in one of the toughest job markets for older workers in recent memory. But last week, they were celebrating their renewed confidence and newfound camaraderie after graduating from “Experience2Work: Employment Boot Camp for Boomers,” a four-week program designed to help out-of-work professionals who are 50 and older.

“I have never felt as solid about who I am and what I can bring to a company,” said Ms. Fish, 58, who has already lined up a networking meeting for this week. “But it’s a roller coaster. I know it’s not going to be easy.”

She’s got that right. The Great Recession slammed older workers harder than any other recession since the 1940s, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And those who have lost jobs during this sluggish recovery often struggle to bounce back.

Workers over 54 remained unemployed for an average of 47 weeks in New York City during the second half of 2013, compared with 41 weeks for the labor force as a whole, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a research organization.

Older women have been hit hardest, finding themselves jobless for an average of 56 weeks.

For the men and women who found their way to the boot camp, run by FEGS Health & Human Services, a nonprofit social services agency, losing a job was akin to being hit by a tidal wave. They expected to be enjoying their professional status and financial stability in their 50s and 60s, not cashing unemployment checks, dipping into retirement funds or battling gnawing feelings of loss and self-doubt.

By the time they started the boot camp in SoHo, nearly everyone had psychic wounds, invisible scars hidden beneath their button-down shirts and turtleneck sweaters.

“I’ve been feeling like a ship without sails; I’ve always worked,” explained Ms. Cabelly, who lost her job seven months ago. “Not to have a job, not to have an income: How do you pick up the pieces? How do you fill the void?”

With hard work. Week after week, she and the other job seekers refined their résumés, honed their computer skills, practiced interviews, polished their pitches and networked on social media with the guidance of Anne Friedman, a career counselor and facilitator for the program. (The boot camp is funded by the UJA-Federation of New York, which worked with FEGS to design the program.)

There have been ups and downs. Ms. Fish snagged a meeting with a senior executive who promised to connect her to the right people only to find out that he thought her two-page résumé needed an overhaul. “It took the wind out of me,” she said. But not for long. Soon, she had a succinct one-pager.

Ms. Cabelly had two promising interviews with a hospital that seemed eager to hire her, but they have a hiring freeze. She is keeping her fingers crossed and her eyes open for other opportunities.

All told, 192 people have participated in the program in Manhattan since it got started in August. Half were unemployed for at least a year when they enrolled. Thirty-eight have found jobs so far. The competition is fierce.

But when the participants lamented about competing with 20- and 30-somethings who seemed born with keyboards attached to their fingertips, Ms. Friedman set them straight.

“What can you do about your age?” she asked.

“Nothing,” the group chorused.

“There are things you can control,” she said. “You can control your résumé. You can control your pitch. But you can’t roll back the clock. You have maturity; don’t lose sight of that. You have so much to offer.”

They also have each other. By graduation day, one of the 10 graduates had found a job. A couple of others had promising leads. But even when the party was over, no one said goodbye.

Instead, they exchanged emails and phone numbers and see-you-real-soons. They plan to keep in touch as they press ahead job searches in earnest this week.

“The best part is that I don’t feel stuck anymore,” said Ms. Pearlstein, who is 52. “And I don’t feel alone.”

Unemployed? You Might Never Work Again

March 20, 2014, 3:02 pm

The long-term unemployed “are an unlucky subset of the unemployed.” They tend to be a little older, a little more educated, a little less white – but really they’re not that different from the broader pool of people who have lost jobs in recent years. Except for one thing: There is a good chance they’ll never work again.

These are the sobering conclusions of a new paper by three Princeton University economists including Alan B. Krueger, the former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors. The paper, presented Thursday at the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity, is part of a growing body of research showing that the prospects of people who lose jobs deteriorate rapidly unless they find new jobs quickly.

This has important, but opposite, implications for monetary and fiscal policymakers. It suggests the Federal Reserve has limited power to reduce long-term unemployment without tolerating higher inflation, which Professor Kreuger and his colleagues argue is affected primarily by the level of short-term unemployment. At the same time, it suggests that legislators acting with greater force and urgency could help people whose hopes are slipping away.

“Overcoming the obstacles that prevent many of the long-term unemployed from finding gainful employment, even in good times,” they wrote, “will likely require a concerted effort by policy makers, social organizations, communities and families, in addition to appropriate monetary policy.”

The idea that the long-term unemployed are on the margins of the labor market, exerting little pressure on wages or prices, is relatively new. On Wednesday I asked Janet L. Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, what she thought of papers that have reached the same conclusions as Mr. Krueger’s group.

“I think it would be tremendously premature to adopt any notion that says that that is an accurate read on either how inflation is determined or what constitutes slack in the labor market,” she responded. “I wouldn’t endorse — I certainly don’t think our committee would endorse the judgment of the research that you cited.”

The basic argument made by the new paper, and others like it, is that the long-standing relationship between movements in inflation and unemployment, which appeared to break down during the Great Recession and its aftermath, can be restored by writing off long-term unemployment. The Phillips curve, a description of this relationship, predicted a decline of one percentage point per year between 2009 and 2013. The actual average was just 0.2 percentage points.

Adjust for – which is to say, ignore – long-term unemployment and voila! The difference almost completely vanishes.

People are only counted among the long-term unemployed if they say they are still looking for jobs. As time passes, people tend to give up, and those who do are no longer counted as members of the labor force. So why do the people who persist in trying become less successful with time?

“Either because, on the supply side, they grow discouraged and search for a job less intensively or because, on the demand side, employers discriminate against the long-term unemployed, based on the (rational or irrational) expectation that there is a productivity-related reason that accounts for their long jobless spell,” the new paper says. It adds that the two explanations are complementary, “as statistical discrimination against the long-term unemployed could lead to discouragement, and skill erosion that accompanies long-term unemployment could induce employers to discriminate against the long-term unemployed.”

But there is no necessity to this explanation, and the paper itself contains some countervailing findings. It notes that the long-term unemployed tend to be older and more highly educated, suggesting their labor is relatively more expensive, and their prospects may improve with the economy.

The paper also presents striking evidence that few people are finding jobs in new industries. Professor Krueger and his colleagues draw the conclusion that government may be able to help. The authors write, “These results suggest that assisting unemployed workers to transition to expanding sectors of the economy, such as health care, professional and business services, and management, is a major challenge.” But if long-term unemployment is more common in industries recovering more slowly, because would-be workers are trapped in those industries, this too suggests that the problem may be economic rather than personal.

There is a way to resolve the question. Fiscal and monetary policy makers could try to help, and we could all see what happens.

Instead, the debate seems increasingly likely to remain purely academic, and the long-term unemployed permanently lost.

Discriminate Against the Old? Even the Old Do It

MARCH 24, 2014

I AM sitting at my desk, clicking keys on my keyboard as faces with words cross my computer screen rapidly. In my midday slump, I’m more than a bit annoyed. What useful information can anyone glean from how quickly or slowly I decide whether words are happy or sad, even as I am also answering whether a pictured face belongs to a younger or older person?

As it turns out, plenty.

After the test, I learned that I had the energy to identify words as “good” more quickly when they were paired with young faces instead of older ones.

This finding comes as no surprise to Mahzarin Banaji, the Harvard University professor who is the co-creator of the Implicit Association Test, the online exam I’ve just taken. It’s designed to uncover prejudices so subconscious we are often unaware of them. Almost all of us reveal bias against older adults, she says — including older adults.

About 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for about the next decade and a half. Unlike those from previous generations, who in the popular imagination happily shuffled off to leisure, most of the new retirees say they want to stay in the paid work force.

So far, however, staying on the job — in any position — is turning out to be harder than the baby boomers anticipated (and, in some cases, less desirable). Fewer than a fifth of Americans over the age of 65 remain in the paid work force. If a man or woman over 55 is unemployed, it takes that person several months longer than someone younger to find a job. Such people are also disproportionately represented among the long-term jobless.

As a result, academics are increasingly churning out studies and papers about age bias that they hope will reach those in a position to hire, promote and issue paychecks. “I can teach you a lot about the scientific evidence of bias, but the job of solving the problem is not just the job of scientists,” Ms. Banaji said. “You would want the public at large to engage with this.”

But many academics don’t see much grappling with the issue of age discrimination in the day-to-day work world. Ofer Sharone, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of the Institute for Career Transitions, recently recruited a group of 90 long-term jobless men and women and paired them with career coaches and counselors for three months. He’s now analyzing the data to determine what, if any, interventions were helpful.

Mr. Sharone has noticed one thing in common among his subjects. “Without exception, they talk about age discrimination,” he said.

Even though age discrimination claims at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are up sharply in recent years, older Americans have little recourse if they believe they are victims of illegal bias, since it is hard to prove.

Some companies are trying to use the research to combat the problem. In the health care sector, for example, growth of the sector and fears about the rapidly aging work force are leaving employers worried that they won’t be able to fill positions with qualified workers. The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has brought in Ms. Banaji to speak with senior executives and give an online seminar to other managers. “We all have unconscious biases that shape our perceptions and have a negative impact on our business decisions,” said Jack Watters, Pfizer’s vice president for external medical affairs.

One that might be of particular concern? “You assume when someone is older, their career will be shorter, so they don’t get the same opportunities,” Mr. Watters said.

Pfizer has also placed renewed emphasis on its Mentor Match program, in part to destigmatize aging by encouraging relationships between workers of different generations.

Tracey Rizzuto, an associate professor of human resources at Louisiana State University, is studying the impact of such mentoring in the oil and gas industry. She said the initiatives appeared to convey to older workers that their companies continued to value them and their contributions.

Human resources professionals often tell Ms. Rizzuto that formal mentor relationships increase the satisfaction of all employees. “What I’ve found is that among large companies using these programs, there was higher morale and internal performance,” she said.

Research shows that bias against senior workers decreases the engagement of everyone in the workplace. “It’s about a perception of fairness,” said Jacquelyn Boone James, the director of research at Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging and Work. Ms. Boone James was the lead author of a paper published in The Journal of Managerial Psychology that studied the impact of intentional and unintentional age discrimination on workers in a retail organization.

California-based Scripps Health tries to make sure employees in departments being eliminated are offered a chance at newly open positions within the company. They are offered three months of pay while they take advantage of placement services at the company’s Career Resource Center. Almost all end up finding new jobs at Scripps, said Victor V. Buzachero, the company’s senior vice president for innovation, human resources and performance management.

Mr. Buzachero acknowledged that he sometimes stepped in to require a Scripps manager to hire a middle-age or older worker if he thought age bias was a reason for someone being passed over. “It’s subtle,” he admitted. “They don’t come out and say it’s age. They say the person doesn’t have the commitment we’re looking for or the skills we are looking for.”

Scripps also encourages older workers to explore career reinventions. Take Ingrid Hassani, now 59. Ms. Hassani, a former chief nurse for a Florida hospital, returned to her native California in 2011. Seeking less management responsibility and more time to spend with her retired husband, she went looking for a position as a department care manager. She said she was routinely considered “overqualified” until she sent her résumé to Scripps, where she is now a care manager in the oncology department.

Ms. Hassani said her years in health management often came in handy. “When my boss calls me in she’ll say, ‘Ingrid, with your experience, how do you think we should handle this?’ ” she said with a laugh.


  1. I am 56 years old and I am among the group that can't seem to get a job either. My family business folded two years ago after draining everything I had trying to save it. Even though I am in better shape than most 30 year olds, and I have 3 times the experience, I have found it literally impossible to find work. Since Jan 2014 I have submitted 517 resumes, gone on 335 interviews and only had two offers. Both offers were at 8 and 9 dollars per hour. Yes there is age discrimination in this country.

    1. Your story is one heard by many and made by many. We have no one listening and no one actually doing anything to change this fact of life. America the

  2. 46 Year Old Job hunting American. I'm here. Dear God, I'm here.