Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pa. labor chief to jobless 50-somethings: Basically, you're screwed

Julia Hearthway, Pa.'s Secretary of Labor and Industry, tells an interviewer that if you're over 50 and you lost a good job in the recession, you'll probably never get another one like it.

Pa. labor chief to jobless 50-somethings: Basically, you're screwed

If you're over 50 and work in a precarious industry, this comes as heartwarming news, by way of a PennLive.com interview with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry, Julia K. Hearthway:

But some jobs – especially higher paying ones for the over-50 set – might not be coming back. Hearthway called this a form of structural unemployment. And while she talked movingly about her interactions with many older unemployed, she stopped short of calling their employment predicament job discrimination.

“I do think there has been a change in our economy,” she said. “There has been structural unemployment. There are certain jobs that will not come back, or will not come back in the numbers they once were.”

And...

And sometimes, it hits a demographic group at the peak of its earning power. And while Hearthway sympathized with the over-50 set who lost good-paying, often professional jobs, she warned that those exact occupations and those precise salaries might never be replaced.

“When you have someone older, you have someone with a wealth of experience,” she said. “But you may not have a job available with the same income. I’ve spoken to a lot of people in their 50s. They are expecting the same job with the same pay scale. But that job may not materialize again. It is never pleasant. But they may have to do deal with this when there is a structural change. I don’t see that as age discrimination. I see that as an age group caught in a recession. Being realistic, that is a tough thing for the 50-something who lost that job.”

The solution? It might be best to take a new job a couple of pegs down the pay scale, then work one’s way back up, Hearthway suggested.

Couldn't they just train us how to frack? Or maybe they're worried that too much andouille sausage would upset our aging intestines.

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Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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