EDITORIAL: Connecticut Must Help Older, Unemployed Workers

Article excerpt

Connecticut's General Assembly is considering a bill that targets discrimination against the unemployed. It deserves passage, but is only a small start toward tackling a big problem: the plight of older workers who have gone months and even years without finding a job.

Nationally, the ranks of "long-term unemployed" people -- jobless for more than six months -- stands at 3.7 million, up from 1.1 million in 2006.

The legislation being considered in Connecticut would take modest steps toward addressing the problem: simply banning employers from saying in a job ad that the unemployed are not eligible for consideration.

It's mind-boggling that a company would put that in a job ad in the first place but, apparently, it happens. And 12 other states are considering similar legislation, according to The Associated Press.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association supports banning such language in job ads, but opposes a provision in the bill that would allow applicants to sue if they suspect discrimination based on their joblessness. We agree that the bar for proving this kind of discrimination should be high and that the wording of the bill should be tweaked accordingly.

But in addressing the issue of long-term unemployment, we need to address the elephant in the room. Many in this situation are over the age of 50, but far too young to retire -- mentally, physically and financially.

They can't find work because employers have preconceived ideas about their ideal candidate -- someone who can be "molded" versus what they perceive as an older worker set in their ways, someone who is a "digital native," someone who is on the upward swing of a career trajectory instead of "on the way down. …