WorkSource helps aging jobless develop new search strategies

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Washington’s older workforce is facing a series of new challenges in unemployment, according to information from Washington’s WorkSource system.

Continuously employed for many years, some may not be familiar with the latest job-search strategies, which puts a segment of the population already disproportionately affected by layoffs at an even greater disadvantage to finding work.

WorkSource officials are highlighting “older” workers as part of “National Employ Older Workers Week,” which runs through Friday. The agency has created an online calendar of events directed toward workers 55 and older. The events include an array of specialized workshops, job clubs and training labs designed to addresses specific challenges faced by older workers.

According to data from WorkSource, people 55 and older have been affected more than other age groups by unemployment and are having a harder time finding new work.

In 2006, workers 55-plus made up 11.3 percent of all unemployed workers in Washington. That rose to 14.5 percent in 2009 and climbed further in 2011, to 15.4 percent.

Among unemployed Washington workers who ran out of unemployment benefits from July 2008 through March 2012, 31 percent were aged 55 and older.

By March of this year, only 21 percent of the older workers who ran out of unemployment benefits had found work in Washington. The average earnings for those re-employed the longest were about half their pre-layoff earnings, while those most recently re-employed averaged about one-third of their pre-layoff wages.

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