99ers featured on 60 Minutes

   If you didn’t see the story on 60 Minutes October 24, be sure to read or view the story online at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/10/21/60minutes/main6978943.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

   60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley traveled to California’s Silicon Valley to find unemployed professionals whose unemployment benefits will end this fall.   At the end of November, more than 1.5 million unemployed workers will cease getting about $350 per month in average unemployment income.  The U.S. unemployment rate is officially at 9.5 percent, but Pelley noted that the real unemployment figure is closer to 17 percent.  That figure will be even higher once the “99ers” — those who have exhausted their 99 weeks maximum unemployment benefits — will not be counted among the unemployed.

    One 54-year-old financial analyst was laid off from a real estate firm. She  she spent her savings, lost her home and finally found herself sitting in a truck with her dog and all of her belongings.  Another over-50 engineering manager out of work for two years says he finally got a job offer — with Target as a floor sales worker paying  9.25 an hour.  “He’s taking the job at Target and he’s glad to get it,” Pelley said.

   If you look at the unemployed professionals Pelley featured in the story, they all shared one thing in common besides being unemployed — they were all over 45 years old. As Pelley said, they are too young to retire and “maybe too old to rehire.”  Did I hear that right? “Too old to rehire?”  How do you spell AGE DISCRIMINATION?  Most of these out-of-work professionals were not laid off because they couldn’t perform, they were let go because they were too expensive and the employer needed to save money on compensation and medical insurance.  In fact, a new survey shows that there is a direct link between age and the amount of time someone is unemployed (http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2010/09/prweb4515234.htm ).

Many of these older workers who lost their jobs registered their comments on the 60 Minutes website. Here are four of them:

    Has the 60 minutes team or anyone addressed the issue re: those whose jobs were eliminated – are they over 40? Seems like most of the folks in Scott’s story were over 40. The large company I worked for has been eliminating a LOT of positions over the past couple of years and it just so happens everyone so far is over the age of 40. Even w/ corporate legal documentation, age discrimination has got to be a factor in this equation. It reminds me of something discussed in the movie “the Rainmaker” – the insurance companies keep denying medical benefits and know that most of those insured just choose not to fight back because they believe it’s a losing battle and give up. Same applies for those over 40 – severance packages, while enticing, do pressure employees to take the package because they can’t afford legal action.

* I agree 100%. I worked for the same company for almost 15 years and was let go despite glowing reviews and accolades from co-workers in all those 15 years. NEVER any problems. I contacted the VP who just happens to be the owners son and my former supervisor. I took a pay cut and took a lesser position with the same company for a while until I learned that they were hiring younger people to do the jobs I could have done (I even went through the interviewing process for one but didn’t get it.) I’m convinced my age was a factor. Tenure and experience is no longer valued and as far as I am concerned, although age is part of the EOE schpeel, proving age discrimination is next to impossible.

* What I think needs to happen is for the government to setup ‘sting’ operations on corporations. They are blatantly violating the age discrimination laws, and it needs to stop. Hire out-of-work Americans over 40 and if necessary, have the government subsidize the company at least partially for medical benefits and any OJT retraining to allow them to become current again!

    *Many of the people in this story are probably victims of illegal age discrimination. Why wasn’t this angle included? Is CBS trying to defend the employers who keep excluding them?

As these comments show, there is a deeper issue behind the layoffs during the past three years. Despite job recruiters continuing to insist that age has nothing to do with why people don’t get hired, it is a major issue in the job market today. Now if only 60 Minutes could do a story about THAT!

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