AARP offers job fairs for struggling older workers

WASHINGTON — Unemployed workers 50 and older will get some much-needed help in their job searches beginning Tuesday, when the AARP kicks off a national series of free career fairs for mature job seekers.

The "Helping Experience Work@50+" campaign will host 48 events in 18 states and the District of Columbia where the jobless rate for older workers is at least 10 percent. The events will run throughout the year in cities as diverse as Detroit, Portland, Ore., Memphis, Tenn., Seattle, Phoenix, Cleveland, Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., and Sacramento, Calif.

The series kicks off Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, with another event Wednesday in Las Vegas and one next Monday in Atlanta.

Dates are still being added. Job hunters can find out about fairs in their areas and register to participate online or by calling 1-888-321-5349.

In addition to local employers looking for mature workers, several national employers will participate at select fairs, including FedEx, Wal-Mart, PNC Bank, Cintas, Rent-A-Center, ALDI supermarkets and Western & Southern Financial Group.

More than 2 million people 55 and older were jobless in February, up 118,000 from January, according to data from the AARP Public Policy Institute.

The jobless rate for workers 55 and older reached 7.1 percent in February, the highest in more than 50 years. Since the recession began in December 2007, the unemployment rate for this group is up 122 percent.

While older workers have lower jobless rates than their younger counterparts do, they're more likely to stay unemployed longer. On average, workers 55 and older are unemployed for nearly 36 weeks, compared with just more than 28 weeks for workers younger than that.

Many of them are staying in the work force to recoup losses in retirement savings suffered in the recession. Others have to support family members and spouses who've lost their jobs.

"AARP recognizes that millions of older Americans are trying to stay employed or get back on the job for a variety of reasons," said Deborah Russell, AARP's director of work force issues. "Older workers continue to face difficult challenges in today's economic downturn."

The fairs will provide advice on career counseling, skills assessment and marketing yourself at age 50.

States that are hosting one or more events are Alabama, Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.


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