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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Business

David Lewkowict

Atlanta, GA

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Seniors dust off their resumes for job fair

March 22, 2010 - 11:27 AM | by: David Lewkowict

Nearly 3,000 Atlanta job-seekers attended a career fair that aims to boost employment in one of the country’s most overlooked worker groups – people aged 50 and older.

The Work@50+ Career Fair, sponsored by AARP, EmploymentGuide.com and WiserWorker.com, is making its way through 19 states. The fair offers career counseling, job-hunting strategies, networking tips and information on how to market experience and skills.

“There’s a difference in skills that older people need to focus on,” said Phyllis Cohn, project manager for AARP. “A lot of our folks who are new at this job-hunting really don’t understand what it takes to get a job today.”

More than 2 million seniors are unemployed. The unemployment rate for workers 55 and older climbed to 7.1 percent in February from 6.8 percent in January. Although the unemployment rate for seniors is still below the national average of 9.7 percent, the rate stands at its lowest since the 1940s.

In addition to seniors who lost their jobs, many seniors have to rejoin the work force because retirement savings have run dry. About seven out of 10 workers aged 45-74 tell AARP that they plan to work in some capacity in retirement. Seniors often face job discrimination due to their age; it typically takes about eight-10 weeks longer than average to find a job, according to the organization.

“I’ve been out of work for two months, and so far, no luck whatsoever,” said one senior job-seeker.

Today’s fair in Atlanta features employers from various industries including health care, hospitality, customer service, finance, sales, insurance, transportation, skilled trades and security.

In weeks to come, more of the Work@50+ Career Fairs will be held in Alabama, Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. These states and D.C. have the highest unemployment rate among people over 50. Although the fair is geared toward seniors, all ages are welcome.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2000, 13 percent of the U.S. workforce was 55 and older, and by 2010, that figure is expected to increase to 17 percent.

By Lauren Miller

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