What Is An “Old Person Job?”

An “old person job?”   Never heard this term in employment discrimination.

But wait.

Bus Driver

“Old person jobs” are “a mix of high-skill service work (like managers, sales supervisors and accountants) and low-skill service work (like truck drivers, janitors and nursing aides). Absent from the top of the list are jobs calling for a fair amount of physical labor. Jobs in farming, manufacturing and repair represent less than a quarter of all new hires in this age bracket.”

This, according to a new study by a Boston College professor who noted that people older than 55 are being “funneled into what he describes as “old-person” jobs.”

The article in which I read this is chock full of studies about the job market, different industries, and stats relating to the age ranges in each, including – baby boomers!

For example: “Using a database that classifies each job based on the kinds of skills it requires, he found that jobs held in greater proportion by older workers tended to require higher levels of dependability and outdoor work and lower levels of active learning, numerical ability and physical skills. So, other things being equal, they were at a disadvantage for engineering jobs, but they did better in real estate sales or property management.

He also found that overall, these jobs tended to pay less.”

Age Discrimination?

The fake resume test used by another researcher uncovered that “résumés that suggested an applicant age 64 to 66 received a response 35 percent less often than résumés that suggested that the applicant was 29 to 31.”

The article talks of “fewer choices, lower pay, more rejections.”

Worthlessness, Insignificance, Rejected

Are these signs of age discrimination?

Maybe yes, maybe no. But, says the researcher, “The one thing that people always point out is that acceptability for age stereotyping is extremely high. The number of people who make age-related jokes are way more frequent than people who make race-related jokes. For whatever reason, the social stigma for age discrimination is really weak.”

Takeaway:  “The social stigma for age discrimination is really weak.”


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]