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Editor’s Note: For a recent Making Sen$e segment, Paul Solman caught up with economist Teresa Ghilarducci to discuss why the job market is harder on aging women than aging men. We asked Ghilarducci to share some of her practical advice from her new book, “How To Retire With Enough Money and How To Know What Enough Is.” The book also discusses retirement, savings, Social Security and why you should get rid of your financial planner.
Below, Ghilarducci explains what older women face in the job market and some tips on how to beat the odds. Watch the full segment on older women workers at the bottom of the post.
— Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor
It’s important for older women seeking employment to understand the particular challenges they face in the labor market.
New research from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank suggests that when the 2008 crash caused a massive surge in unemployment, the hardest hit were older job seekers, especially women. After the crash, the chances of being long-term unemployed more than doubled for people over 65. Before the crash in 2007, 14 percent of women over 65 were unemployed for longer than 27 weeks; in 2013, over 50 percent were. In contrast, 23 percent of older men were long-term unemployed in 2007, and 48 percent were in 2013.
Adding to that, economic research confirms what many older workers already know: Difficult as it is to get a new job, getting a job that is just as good as your old one is almost impossible. Unemployed older workers who get rehired experience an average earnings loss of 25 percent compared to earnings of their previous job. This is mainly due to the new job offering fewer hours, which results in less pay.
The job application process is especially difficult for older women. Economists Harry Farber and Til von Wachter found that college-educated women over 50 are much less likely to receive a callback after an interview for an administrative position than younger college-educated women.
Sex discrimination is not news to anyone, but the combination of sexism and age discrimination is a unique disadvantage for older women in the workforce.
My advice to all workers is to make prospective employers feel that they would be lucky to have you. Here are some tips for older job seekers looking to increase their appeal, taken from my new book, “How to Retire With Enough Money and How to Know What Enough Is.”
Teresa Ghilarducci is a labor economist and nationally recognized expert in retirement security. She is the Bernard L. and Irene Schwartz professor of economics at The New School for Social Research and the Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and The New School’s Retirement Equity Lab. Her most recent book is "How to Retire with Enough Money."
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