President Barack Obama acknowledged in an interview published Thursday that older workers who lose their jobs have a harder time getting back to work than their younger counterparts do.
"When you lose your job in your 50s, it's a lot tougher, because a lot of employers say to themselves, 'Well, I might have to pay those people more. I may have to retrain them. I may not keep them as long. Their health care costs may be higher,'" Obama said in an interview with AARP The Magazine.
Obama continued, "So what we've tried to do is to make sure that retraining is linked to jobs that we know are going to be in high demand."
In his most recent State of the Union, President Obama touted his administration's efforts to improve and simplify the government's job training efforts. In that speech, he also acknowledged the difficulty older workers face when they lose their jobs.
While the unemployment rate for people 55 and older is much lower than the overall national average, workers older than 55 are much more likely to be out of work for longer. The average jobless spell for an unemployed older worker was 60 weeks in April, compared with 38.5 weeks for people younger than 55, according to AARP’s Public Policy Institute. Many older jobless blame age discrimination for their predicament.
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Obama also suggested older unemployed workers might try launching their own businesses if they can't get hired.
"Last week I was at Lorain County Community College in Ohio," he said. "What they've been able to do is to take older workers who have a lot of skills and training, but maybe for jobs that no longer exist, and specifically shape their training experience to an industry or a job that is hiring now. The other thing is that for workers over 50 who've got a wealth of experience, some may want to start their own business. And we've actually put more financing through the Small Business Administration."