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.