Scotlandville man’s job search highlights the challenges senior citizens face looking for work

Growing numbers of senior citizens want to work but are finding it difficult to land jobs

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lately he’s paying more attention to the calendar, waiting for his monthly check that just barely pays the bills.

“When you can’t go out and actually get you a loaf of bread or get you a pack of meat between the 3rd and the 3rd, that ain’t no good at all,” Philson said.

About three months ago, Philson decided he would get a job.

He said a pastor at his church helped him apply to several places in the neighborhood, but he never even got a callback.

He now worries he’s unemployable.

“I don't want no big large sum or nothing,” Philson explained. “I just want to establish something for me and for older people that makes us feel like we’re wanted or that we’re needed. I mean we have to survive.”

As the population in the United States ages, there will be many more seniors who want or need to work.

There are more than 46 million adults age 65 and older currently living in the U.S. That number is expected to grow to almost 90 million by 2050, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

Between 2020 and 2030, the number of seniors is expected to increase by nearly 18 million.

“We always see a good number (of seniors), and especially recently,” said program director Anne Nowak. “I know actually my oldest person I've worked with came last week. She's 81-years-old.”

The Career Center offers several free services for job seekers, including help with applications, job coaching, resumé help, interview prep, and much more.

“80 percent of jobs are never advertised, and so for older workers, it’s even more important to network. Most of the older workers we see that are successful in the end do it through some level of networking,” Nowak said.

She advises people to work their connections at church, and ask family, friends, or neighbors to help them look for jobs.

Nowak also points to a program run by the Capital Area Agency on Aging that hires and trains older, low-income workers.

One of the biggest challenges for older job seekers is convincing employers to take a chance on a senior.

“We’re talking about Millennials and Generation Z, that they’re tied to their cell phones and social media. That’s an issue you usually don’t have with older workers,” Nowak said. “Usually you don’t need to micromanage them. They know what they’re doing, they’ve been around. They’re usually very dependable.”

Philson said he’s not quite ready to give up his job search. He contacted WAFB to help shine a light on the issue, and he’s hoping someone in the Scotlandville area will hear his story and give him a leg up.

“If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it until you do better,” he said.

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