In Recession, Age Discrimination Is More Prominent Than Racism

As Obama's election shows, racism is out the door. Ageism is sadly here to stay.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

The good news for boomers, or workers 45 and older, is that if you were employed before the recession, you're less likely than younger workers to be fired (former GMC Chair Rick Wagoner one noted exception, however).

The bad news is:

Workers ages 45 and over form a disproportionate share of the hard-luck recession category, the long-term unemployed—those who have been out of work for six months or longer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On average, laid-off workers in this age group were out of work 22.2 weeks in 2008, compared with 16.2 weeks for younger workers. Even when they finally land jobs, they typically experience a much steeper drop in earnings than their younger counterparts.

So is ageism alive and well (even thriving perhaps?) in the current downturn? You betcha. Ageism, as is the case with sexism and with homophobe-ism, are dying harder than racism. We still experience plenty of all four, but the lesson of last November is racism is racing for the door a lot more quickly than other nasty societal stereotypes.

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