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Uh Oh. The Not-So-Rosy Picture for Women Our Age in the Economic Downturn

Age discrimination has long been rampant in the workplace, but the current economic downturn will only make it worse. NextTribe is forming a group to take on issues like this.

We invite you to join the NextTribe Acts meeting on Wed., Aug. 19th, where we’ll talk about tackling issues like the discrimination women over 50 face in the workplace, part of the double whammy of ageism and sexism.

Sex and age discrimination in the workplace is nothing new, with many of us painfully aware that our (relatively) high salaries make us prime targets for downsizing. Now comes research that shows we’ll suffer more than our younger counterparts in the economic apocalypse we’re experiencing and are likely to continue to experience for years to come.

Age discrimination is illegal of course (to a degree), but still it rises when times are bad. “It doesn’t take a genius to see that the jobs market is probably heading for a massive, rolling shakeout. And that means plenty of employers may be using the cover of COVID-19 to get rid of lots of expensive older workers,” writes Brett Arends of MarketWatch.

Brace yourself for companies shedding experienced workers with a decent wage to hire less expensive young people who are more malleable and less vocal about unreasonable pay or demands.

Easier to Fire

Last month, the National Bureau of Economic Research published an analysis of data, which showed that “recessions create excess labor supply and thus generate opportunities to engage in discriminatory behaviors far more cheaply.”

Economists Gordon Dalh of the University of California, San Diego, and Matthew Knepper of the University of Georgia reported that for each percentage point increase in a state’s unemployment rate, the number of age-discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rose significantly more.

More disheartening news specifically for women: The authors looked at a 2012 study, in which fake female resumes were sent out to job openings across the country during the recovery from the Great Recession. They found that for each one percentage point increase in the local unemployment rate, women older than 50 were 14 percent less likely to get a callback than younger women (in this study, defined as those aged 35 to 42).

“All else equal, an older female is 6.8 percentage points less likely to receive a callback when she is competing against two additional younger female applicants, which translates to a 63 percent reduction relative to the mean,” the authors wrote. You don’t have to be conversant in economic statistical terms to know that this outcome really sucks.

Older workers are supposed to be protected legally against age discrimination in the workplace, but in the past 15 years, the Supreme Court has narrowed the protections. This is why we need to act against the double whammy of ageism and sexism. We invite you to join the NextTribe Acts meeting on Wednesday, August 19th, where we will talk about how to tackle these issues.

By NextTribe Editors


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