Ageism in employment has been well-documented, especially for women. In a previous post, I wrote about the difficulties that women over fifty often face in getting hired or retaining employment. A new study conducted by AARP on midcareer women, reported by Sara Luterman for the 19th, found that women aged forty to sixty-five are facing more difficulties in bouncing back from pandemic layoffs than their younger peers. Because of ageism, the long-term negative impact on their financial health could be devastating.
The AARP study found that midcareer women say their financial situation has worsened and they are having difficulty getting hired:
- One in four women ended up taking on credit card debt to cover basic expenses like rent or food.
- One in ten women ended up dipping into retirement savings.
- One in five midcareer women are worried about being laid off or having their hours reduced.
- Two-thirds of midcareer women who lost their jobs during the pandemic have been out of work for six months or more, a status defined as “long-term unemployed.”
- One-third cite age discrimination as the greatest impediment to finding a job.
- Midcareer women of color reported experiencing age discrimination at higher rates than their White peers.
- Women who already had caregiving responsibilities found those increased. More than half of midcareer Latinas cared for a child, grandchild, or disabled adult family member during the pandemic.
Some long-term implications for the financial health of older women, reported in a previous post, include the following:
- Lower lifetime earnings lead to lower Social Security benefits for women. Women receive benefits that are, on average, 80 percent of those that men receive.
- Lower lifetime earnings can reduce the amount of wealth women can accumulate from employer-sponsored retirement plans.
- Women tend to live longer than men, often draw down their savings over a longer period, and thus are more likely to run out of retirement savings.
We must keep the pressure on our elected representatives to develop policies and programs to ensure that midcareer women do not find themselves destitute in their old age because of the pandemic.
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