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For jobless over 50, a challenging search for work

  • This photo taken Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, shows Luanne Lynch, 57, in San Gabriel, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

EDITOR'S NOTE _ Aging America is a joint AP-APME project examing the aging of the baby boomers and the effect this so-called silver tsunami is having on society.

ROCKFORD, Ill. — When Charlie Worboys lost his job, he feared searching for a new one at his age might be tough. Six years later, at 65, he's still looking.

Luanne Lynch, 57, was laid off three times in the past decade and previous layoffs brought jobs with a lower salary; this time she can't even get that.

They're not alone. A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds many people over 50 reporting great difficulty finding work and feeling that their age is a factor.

After Worboys was laid off and his hunt for another teaching job was fruitless, he sought counseling positions. When those leads dried up, he applied for jobs in juvenile detention centers, in sales and elsewhere. He finally settled for part-time work, all the while still scouring online listings and sending out applications each week.

"They're looking for the younger person," he said. "They look at the number 65 and they don't bother to look behind it."

The AP-NORC Center poll found 55 percent of those 50 and older who have sought a job in the past five years characterized their search as difficult, and 43 percent thought employers were concerned about their age. Further, most in the poll reported finding few available jobs (69 percent), few that paid well (63 percent) or that offered adequate benefits (53 percent). About a third were told they were overqualified.

Still, some companies are welcoming older workers, and 43 percent of job seekers surveyed found a high demand for their skills and 31 percent said there was a high demand for their experience. Once on the job, older workers were far more likely to report benefits related to their age — 60 percent said colleagues had come to them for advice more often and 42 percent said they felt as if they were receiving more respect in the company.

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