A new AARP poll says 34 percent of older Americans, including 23 percent of older Maine voters, report that they or someone they know has experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
An analysis of the June jobs report by AARP found that it takes longer for unemployed older workers to find work than their younger counterparts and that, in Maine, 17 percent of those already retired believe they may need to return to the workforce. The average duration of unemployment for older workers was 55.6 weeks compared with 35.2 weeks for those under 50, according to an AARP news release Friday.
The Maine poll is part of a national report issued Friday by AARP, which aims to boost support for the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. Eighty-one percent of respondents said is important for Congress to take action and restore workplace protections against age discrimination after a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court case made it harder to prove age discrimination.
In the poll, taken in May 2012, 55 percent of Maine respondents said they think that people over age 50 face age discrimination in the workplace. The poll was conducted by GS Strategy Group, which surveyed 1,000 registered voters age 50 and over in Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Tennessee. It has a margin of error plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Four of the states in the AARP survey — Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Tennessee — have key races in November. Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faces re-election in 2014.
The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), would change the rules for age discrimination back. AARP strongly backs the legislation, currently working its way through Congress, and is urging the public to contact their Members of Congress on the issue.
Other findings from the AARP report:
—16 percent of respondents who were retired have returned to work.
—29 percent feel they are close to having enough money to retire.
—92 percent of respondents agree older Americans have to work longer to make ends meet or save money for retirement.
—92 percent feel the high cost of gas, health care, food and housing requires many Americans to work longer to rebuild retirement savings.