Job Market for Workers 50 and Older Heats Up

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Job Market Is Looking Better for Workers Over 50
If you're looking for a job, it's a good time to appreciate your age. Unemployment rates drop as Americans get older, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January, the unemployment rate for those who were 45 and older sat at 4.1 percent in contrast to 4.4 percent for 35- to 44-year-olds and 5.9 percent in the 25 to 34 age bracket.

Companies have begun to realize the value of older workers, according to Time. A growing number of businesses offer retraining programs. For example, Barclays is expanding its banking apprenticeship program to candidates older than 50 and will consider workers from unrelated fields. The list of organizations wooing older workers includes PwC, Regeneron, Harvard Business School, MetLife, McKinsey, National Institutes of Health, Stanley Consultants and Michelin North America, according to AARP.

There are some solid reasons why many companies look at older workers as prized assets. Companies are already experiencing a brain drain as older workers with intimate knowledge of the business retire as 10,000 a day will turn 65 through 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. Even large companies lose important experience, as NPR has reported.

The baby boomer generation represents 70 million people through 2020, according to the Census Bureau -- a large number of perspective employees. That translates into 23 to 30 percent of the workforce in many industries, as AOL Jobs has reported. In addition, a separate story noted that older workers have skills and characteristics highly prized by employers.

Although that has translated into some good news in government statistics, not all is rosy for older workers. A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management suggested that many companies have not yet realized the problems they face through a loss of older workers. Twenty-four percent of HR professionals responding to the group's survey said that they didn't see the loss of talent as a potential risk. And only 13 percent of companies have either changed their policies to address the loss of older workers or have plans in the works.

Still, the bad news could also be good news. As a greater number of older people leave the workplace and the growing problem becomes obvious to more companies, there could be additional focus and opportunities to drive the unemployment rate even lower.

There is also improved job news on the other end of the age continuum. The job market has improved for recent college graduates, according to The Wall Street Journal. Of the 67,000 2014 graduates that responded to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' First Destination Survey, more than half had full-time jobs within six months of leaving school.
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