Seniors Scrambling for Work

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2009 1:37 PM CST
Unemployed people wait in line at the California Employment Development Department in San Jose.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The recession is hitting elderly workers much harder than in the past, thanks to an increase in the number of older workers—especially those over 75—and a severe shortage of jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports. In past recessions, these workers just retired; now, they're scrambling to find a way to pay their medical bills and mortgages. "Who is going to hire an 81-year-old man?" asked one unemployed bartender.

The unemployment rate for workers 65 and older stands at 5.7%, below the national average but much higher than the 1981 recession's rate of 4.3%. There is a lone federal program designed to help, but it promises only 20 hours of work a week at minimum wage and is funded to address just 1% of eligible workers.