AARP’s report shows older African Americans continue to face work obstacles

Image: thenorthstarnews.com

Nearly four years after the official end of the Great Recession, African-American older workers continue to confront a difficult job picture across the country.

Federal unemployment statistics for January show that African-American workers between 45 and 74 had an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, compared with 6.1 percent for whites of the same age. For African-American workers of all ages, the jobless rate for January was a whopping 13.8 percent, compared with an overall rate of 7.9 percent.

New AARP research shows that a large number of older African-Americans are anxious about continuing weaknesses in the economy and small businesses in which they are involved.

“For many years, older African-Americans have faced an extremely difficult job market,” said AARP Vice President for Multicultural Engagement Edna Kane-Williams in announcing the release of the research. “Others have confronted major problems as well, but the situation has been – and continues to be – especially acute for diverse communities.”

An AARP fact sheet, released in conjunction with Black History Month, summarizes preliminary data from a “Multicultural Work and Career Study” that will be released later this year. The overall survey included those ages 45-74 who were either employed or actively looking for work; it was conducted last November and December.

The strain among older African-Americans is apparent in the fact that a large number – 39 percent – said that it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they will either lose their job or have to give up working for themselves in the next year.

Among those who said that they were likely to give up working for themselves, 15 percent said that “business is slow”, 12 percent cited the “weak economy” and 11 percent mentioned “my health”.

Reflecting anxiety on a separate question was the response from 25 percent of all African-Americans in the sample that they anticipated that they may need to take a leave from their job to “care for an adult family member in the next five years.” Nineteen percent said that they had already taken a leave to care for an older relative in the last five years.

AARP has a variety of programs and resources to support older workers. Most recently, AARP has begun offering a new way for experienced workers to advance themselves through Work Reimagined, a social network-based jobs program that connects employers seeking experienced workers with qualified professionals searching for new or more satisfying careers. The site (www.workreimagined.org) leverages the platform of the social media site, LinkedIn.

Work Reimagined offers job listings independent of LinkedIn, as well as articles, columns, tips and tools to help people navigate today’s workplace.

AARP has also developed an alliance with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer resources and advice to encourage older entrepreneurs. Last October, AARP and SBA collaborated to host a National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day in several cities around the country.

To see a summary of the preliminary data from the “Multicultural Work and Career Study,” visit www.aarp.org/stayingaheadofthecurve2013.

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