DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – National Employ Older Workers Week usually doesn’t get much attention this time of year. But this year the observance comes with serious concern about the rate of elderly unemployment.
CBS 11 News went to a local job fair to find out just how bad the problem is.
When a reporter saw Ron McElroy he looked a little lost, among others at a job fair in east Dallas. But it’s understandable since just hours earlier he lost his job at a retail store.
McElroy explained that his journey from the unemployment office to the job had taken just minutes. “I went to Texas Workforce [Commission] in Richardson and the man handed me a piece of paper and said they’re having a job fair,” he said. “So, boom, I came over here.”
McElroy is 70-years-old and wants to work. He said it was his lack of computer skills that got him fired in the first place.
“As far the computers go it’s a hunt and peck thing,” he said of his experience. “I didn’t catch on enough, and after six weeks they said ‘you’re just not fast enough’.”
The job fair that was held at a church in east Dallas included employers from banks, the health care industry and even the federal government.
Job seekers at the event represented various races and genders. The one thing they had in common — all of them are over 50.
“I’m happy today to find there’s companies looking for that,” job fair attendee Paul Fife said of the event focused on older workers.
Sharyn Fein was at the job fair representing Apple Care and Companion and said age isn’t a factor. “As long as they have a car and they can drive they’re employable,” she said.
Across the nation, unemployment among those 55 and over has almost doubled in the past two years.
While not every employer is eager to take applications from older workers, that’s specifically what the two-dozen companies at the east Dallas job fair were looking for.
“I think they are overlooked in a lot of areas,” one employer said of older workers.
Often employers are drawn to older for jobs that require stability and trustworthiness. Job fair attendee Mary Lou Kitts said it simply. “We have work ethics which I have noticed are fully lacking in the younger generation.”
All of the employers at the job fair were pre-screened to make sure they had openings and were specifically looking for older workers.
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