Older workers are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. work force, according to the federal Administration on Aging, but they also face unprecedented challenges in today's job market.
That's the backdrop for National Employ Older Workers Week, which runs through Saturday.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, the goal is to spotlight how workers 55 years and older contribute to the workplace while emphasizing the tools they may need to transition back into the work force.
"Today's reality is that we have record numbers of older people in the work force, many on the sidelines who can't find work," Stephanie Cabral, California state director of Experience Works, a nonprofit that provides training and job opportunities for older workers, said in a statement.
The economic downturn continues to affect job seekers of all stripes, with California's jobless rate at 12.4 percent and national unemployment at 9.6 percent. Workers 55 and older have been especially hard hit as downsizing or economic uncertainty has forced many back into the job market.
Nationally, more than 2.2 million people age 55 and older were unemployed in August, according to an AARP analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Of those, the average duration of unemployment was nearly 10 months, nearly double the average in December 2007 when the recession began.
AARP hopes to change that, debuting this month a new online job-hunting service, in partnership with job search engine Indeed.com.
The free AARP Job Search Engine, found online at www.aarp.org/jobs, allows seekers to look for jobs by state, ZIP code, industry, occupation and title.
"The 50-plus audience is going online like never before and our goal is to provide them with information and tools they need to live their best lives," said Nataki Clarke, an AARP vice president.